Everything you wanted to know about Trinamool candidates in West Bengal
More than forty percent women, cine-stars, tainted figures and bankers
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday released the list of Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidates for all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies of West Bengal. The party has fielded 17 women candidates this time, which is around 40.5 per cent of its candidates in the state, higher than last time’s 34 per cent. So far, this is the highest number of women candidates fielded by any party.
Another significant feature of the list is the continued presence of a significant number of cine-stars from the Bengali film industry, popularly called Tollywood. Senior journalist Dola Mitra in her biography “Decoding Didi: Making Sense of Mamata Banerjee” has said that Banerjee is personally fascinated with cine stars, which is why she fielded five prominent cine personalities in the 2014 election, who clinched their seats. Though some of these cine star MPs of TMC have been dropped this time, the number has remained constant due to new arrivals.
These new arrivals include Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, two very young cinema and TV personalities who have been fielded from Jadavpur and Basirhat, respectively. Mimi Chakraborty replaces sitting TMC MP Prof. Sugata Bose, a Harvard professor and grandson of Subhash Chandra Bose. Mamata Banerjee clarified that Prof. Bose could not get permission to contest from his university, which is why he pulled out.
Nusrat Jahan has replaced sitting TMC MP from Basirhat (North 24 Parganas) Idris Ali, who has been asked to contest the assembly by-election in Uluberia. It goes without saying that both actors have no experience in politics till now.
On the other hand, veteran actor and Bankura MP Moon Moon Sen has been moved to Asansol against BJP MP and MoS Babul Supriyo. Sensing a tough fight at Bankura from the BJP this time, veteran politician and ex-Kolkata mayor Subrata Mukherjee has been fielded by the party.
However, yesteryears' superstar and MP Satabdi Roy and currently the highest paid Bengali actor Deepak Adhikari (popularly called Deb) have been repeated from Birbhum and Ghatal seats, respectively, which they had won in 2014.
Two of the cine-star MPs who have been dropped are Tapan Paul from Krishnanagar and Sandhya Roy from Medinipur. Paul, who was also interrogated by the police in connection with the Rose Valley ponzi scheme scam, has allegedly pulled out due to till health.
He has been replaced by Mahua Moitra, TMC MLA from Karimpur. Moitra is an ex-JP Morgan banker who left her job for politics and has come to the TMC after leaving her previous party, the Congress. However, TMC has not cared much for the taint of the Rose Valley scam, which becomes evident from the fact that Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who was arrested by the CBI in connection with the case, has been repeated by the party from Kolkata North seat, which he won in 2014.
Another significant feature of the list is fielding of seasoned politicians, most of whom came to the TMC from the Congress, on significant seats. Hence, Manas Bhuniya, an ex-Congress stalwart and present Rajya Sabha MP, has been fielded from Medinipur, replacing sitting TMC MP and actress Sandhya Roy. It is believed that the seat will see a tough TMC-BJP contest this time, and Roy’s political experience is too little to tackle that challenge properly.
Similarly, sitting Congress MP from Maldah North Mausam Noor has been fielded from here by the TMC this time. Noor, who comes from the family of Congress stalwart late Abdul Ghani Khan Chaudhary, left the Congress recently, allegedly after her attempts to build a united front against the BJP in West Bengal were not paid heed to by the leadership of the Congress.
Another veteran politician with a Congress background who has found space in the list is MLA Asit Mal, a legislator with experience, who has been fielded from Bolpur.
TMC MP from Bolpur Anupam Hazra was expelled by the party and recently joined the BJP. Sensing a tough fight on this seat, the TMC decided to field veteran Mal here. Another TMC MP who joined the BJP is Soumitra Khan of Bishnupur, on whose seat the TMC has fielded Shyamal Santra.
Obvious repeats in the list include Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee from Diamond Harbour, ex-Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi from Barrackpore, Saugata Roy from Dum Dum, Sisir Adhikari from Kanthi and Divyendu Adhikari from Tamluk.
However, a surprising change was witnessed on the prestigious South Kolkata seat, which Mamata Banerjee used to represent before becoming CM. In 2014, TMC state president Subrata Bakshi won from here but this time he has been replaced, allegedly due to his own insistence, by Kolkata Municipal Corporation chairperson Mala Roy.
While declaring candidates for all seats of Bengal, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has also said that her party will be contesting in neighbouring states.
(Rajan Pandey is a political analyst who has authored the book 'Battleground UP')