Derek O'Brien, Saket Gokhale among 6 candidates named by TMC for Rajya Sabha polls

The party has retained three sitting members and introduced three fresh faces for the Upper House

July 10, 2023 12:21 pm | Updated 07:04 pm IST - New Delhi

TMC has announced the names of six candidates, including party spokesperson Derek O’Brien, for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections.

TMC has announced the names of six candidates, including party spokesperson Derek O’Brien, for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has announced its candidates for six Rajya Sabha seats in West Bengal. The party has retained three of its sitting members and announced three fresh faces for the Upper House, branding its choice of candidates as a blend of experience and youth. Sushmita Dev, who joined the Trinamool after quitting the Congress, does not find space in the list. 

The seats will go to polls later this month. The six names include sitting MPs Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray and Dola Sen. Mr. O’Brien has been an MP since 2011 and is currently the floor leader of the party, while Mr. Ray, who was first sent to the Upper House in 2012, is the Deputy Chief Whip. Ms. Sen, a senior leader and trade unionist, became an MP in 2017.

The newcomers are Bangla Sanskriti Mancha president, 35-year-old Samirul Islam; TMC’s Alipurduar district president 42-year-old Prakash Chik Baraik; and RTI activist and TMC spokesperson 36-year-old Saket Gokhale.

The selection of three new faces signals careful political calculation by the TMC. Mr. Baraik’s nomination, party insiders say, is aimed at bolstering the party’s influence in north Bengal, where the BJP had managed to make inroads. To Mr. Baraik’s credit, Alipurduar’s BJP MLA Suman Kanjilal jumped ship to the TMC this February, becoming the central party’s sixth legislator to do so. He is also the tribal face of the party. 

Mr. Islam is an assistant professor at Howrah college and is the minority face of the party. His organisation Bangla Sanskriti Mancha is believed to wield huge support in the districts of Birbhum, Murshidabad, Malda, East and West Burdwan and Hooghly.

Arrested by ED

While both Mr. Islam and Mr. Baraik have been working in the party for long, Mr. Gokhale only joined in August last year. He hit the headlines earlier this year when he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged crowd-funding and misappropriation of funds. 

Besides Mr. O’Brien, Mr. Ray and Ms. Sen, the tenures of Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya, TMC’s Assam leader Sushmita Dev and its Darjeeling leader Shanta Chhetri ended, following which the six seats fell vacant

It is learnt that Ms. Sen will be fielded from Assam in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. A seventh Rajya Sabha seat from West Bengal is also vacant after former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro resigned as TMC MP in April. A by-poll will be held for that seat along with the elections to these six seats on July 24.

The seventh seat from the State is expected to be won by the BJP, which has not yet announced its pick. 

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.