Mamata Banerjee released her list of 42 candidates for West Bengal Wednesday, one that was a surprise mixture of career politicians, celebrities from sport, film, music and theatre, and even a Harvard professor who is also a member of Netaji’s family.
“I have combined all — caste, creed, culture, people from the fields of education and entertainment, sports and football and of course youth,” said Mamata. “In my list are 11 women or 26.19 per cent, and 10 SC candidates or 23.81 per cent. Seven candidates are from the Muslim community, which is 17 per cent and up two since last time.”
She has retained all but two sitting MPs, and brought in a number of young candidates that include her nephew Abhishek Banerjee from Diamond Harbour, the seat vacated by Somen Mitra when he went back to the Congress. Fighting now from Kolkata North, Mitra said: “The seeds of family rule have been sown… He (Abhishek) is too junior for me to comment.”
The five film stars include Moon Moon Sen, daughter of Suchitra Sen, from Bankura. Dipak Adhikari or “Deb”, an emerging actor, will contest from Ghatal. And Sandhya Roy, an actress of an earlier generation, got the ticket to Midnapore.
One big surprise was Baichung Bhutia for Darjeeling. There was speculation about the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha putting up a common candidate with the Trinamool, but this makes it clear the GJM will either have to accept Bhutia or look elsewhere.
Harvard history professor Dr Sugato Bose, son of former MP Krishna Bose, will contest from Jadavpur with sitting MP Suman Chattopadhyay, a singer, having fallen out with Mamata.
Bhoomi band singer Soumitra Roy will contest Maldaha Uttar and singer Indranil Sen from Baharampur, where the sitting MP is Adhir Choudhury. Arpita Ghosh, a stage artiste, will contest Balurghat, and a member of the Dasmunsi family, Satya Ranjan, from Raigunj.
Asked how many seats she hopes to win and if she is in the running for the PM’s post, she said: “I am not an astrologer to predict how many seats we will win. Neither am I in the competition for the PM’s chair. But of course, if there is any opportunity, the people will decide.”