In Bengal, CM Mamata declares star-studded candidate list; drops 27 sitting MLAs
- The list of dropped names also includes Amit Mitra, state finance minister, Purnendu Basu, state technical education minister and Manish Gupta, former state power minister. Instead at least three councillors of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation were given tickets.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee released a star-studded candidate list for 291 assembly seats on Friday, while announcing that she would be contesting the upcoming West Bengal polls from Nandigram in East Midnapore.
Soon after the announcement, protests broke out and supporters blocked roads as names of at least 27 sitting MLAs were dropped to include new faces including film stars and sportspersons. Some joined the party earlier this week.
“I was always there with Mamata Banerjee. And this is what I get? My name was dropped because I am diabetic. She could have told me at least. May good sense prevail in her,” said Sonali Guha, a four time legislator and once considered Banerjee’s alter ego.
At Bhangar in South 24 Parganas and Amdanga in North 24 Parganas TMC supporters blocked roads after the names of the assemblies’ sitting MLAs Arabul Islam and Rafiqur Rahaman were dropped. A TMC office was also ransacked at Bhangar.
“My booth workers are crying. I will do whatever the people of Bhangar tell me to do,” said Islam, a TMC strongman, as he broke into tears.
The TMC chief perhaps apprehending such a reaction said that her party would include the legislators, whose names have been dropped, in a legislative council that would be set up if the TMC forms the government for the third time.
“Several existing MLAs, ministers and party leaders could not be given tickets. We had to come up with a mix and match of old timers and young ones. Also, names of those who are above 80-years-old have been dropped because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some MLAs are ailing. We would try to include all these names in the state legislative council,” Banerjee said, while justifying why the names were dropped.
The list of dropped names also includes Amit Mitra, state finance minister, Purnendu Basu, state technical education minister and Manish Gupta, former state power minister. Instead at least three councillors of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation were given tickets.
Among the new faces that were inducted were several actors, directors, singers, doctors and even sportspersons. The prominent names include Raj Chakraborty, film director, Sayantika Banerjee, actress, Koushani Mukherjee, actress and June Malia, actress. While some joined the TMC earlier this year, a few others like Sayantika Banerjee joined a few days ago.
“It is a very challenging task. I know the lanes and bylanes of Barrackpore from where I am contesting. I also know the problems of the people. I would urge the people not to see me as a director or film personality but as a soldier of Mamata Banerjee,” Chakraborty said.
Dismissing public perception that the BJP is breathing down her neck, Mamata Banerjee said, “This is a soft election, a smiley election. We will play, we will fight, and we will win."
While Mamata Banerjee declared that she would be contesting from Nandigram, a party veteran and state power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee would be contesting from Bhawanipore in south Kolkata. Banerjee is the sitting MLA of Bhawanipore which is her home turf.
The BJP took a jibe at the chief minister saying that the CM has sensed incumbency and hence left her traditional seat Bhawanipore.
“If the incumbent Chief Minister is unsure of winning her traditional seat, it is because she has sensed strong anti-incumbency on the ground. This is just the beginning. Pishi (aunt) will soon see Maa, Maati and Manush all slipping out of her hands. Bengal will finally see ashol poriborton (real transformation),” tweeted Amit Malviya, BJP’s IT cell head.