Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Tuesday unveiled the party’s candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, with women being nominated to contest in 17 of the 42 seats in West Bengal. The party also nominated a woman to contest in one out of three seats for which it named candidates in Jharkhand, and announced contestants for some seats in Assam, Odisha, Bihar and Andaman.
“We believe in women’s empowerment. In 2014, 35 per cent of our MPs were women. I am happy to share that this time 41 per cent of our Lok Sabha candidates are women,” said Banerjee. The Trinamool move comes two days after the BJD in Odisha announced that it would allocate 33 per cent of its Lok Sabha tickets to women. ‘
Among Trinamool’s women candidates are Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Mahua Moitra, and movie stars Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan. The list also includes Mausam Noor, the niece of former railways minister, the late A B A Ghani Khan Choudhury. Noor had recently switched over from the Congress. Click here for more election news
At least eight sitting MPs have been replaced and two new candidates are being fielded from seats held by two expelled MPs.
One of the key takeaways from the list is the absence of big TMC faces like its all-India general secretary Subrata Bakshi, Harvard Professor Sugata Bose, prominent minority face Idris Ali, actress Sandhya Roy and Uma Soren who had won in 2014.
With the party relying on a combination of public appeal and experience in seats where the BJP is said to have made “inroads”, old-timer Subrata Mukherjee has replaced Moonmoon Sen in Bankura while actress Jahan replaces Ali in a deeply polarised Basirhat.
In Bankura, where Sen toppled CPM veteran Basudeb Acharia in 2014, the ground situation has changed, said TMC sources. Sen has been fielded from Asansol where the sitting MP is BJP leader and Union minister Babul Supriyo, who defeated Trinamool’s Dola Sen in 2014.
An ailing Mukherjee, who is a state minister, is not the only grassroots politician to replace a film star. Rajya Sabha MP Manas Bhunia, who moved from the Congress, replaced actress Sandhya Roy in Medinipur. Former Union minister Dinesh Trivedi has retained the Barrackpore seat.
With a proposed Congress-Trinamool tie-up failing to take off, Banerjee is going all out in the Congress strongholds of Baharampur and Murshidabad, fielding Congress MP and local strongman Adhir Chowdhury’s one-time aides Apurba Sarkar and Abu Taher Khan, respectively. However, by fielding a political lightweight Khalilur Rehman in Jangipur, Banerjee has once again gone easy on Abhijit Mukherjee, son of former President Pranab Mukherjee.
Veteran leaders and MPs like Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Kalyan Banerjee and Sougata Roy will contest from their traditional seats — Kolkata Uttar, Serampore and Dum Dum, respectively. Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and party youth leader Abhishek Banerjee will contest from Diamond Harbour, where he won in 2014.
The party MPs who lost out include Tapas Paul in Krishnanagar where MLA Mohua Moitra has been fielded and Uma Soren, who has been replaced by school teacher Birbaha Soren.
The party’s outreach to the Matua community continued with Mamatabala Thakur from the first family of the Vaishnavite sect being retained in Bongaon. Mamatabala was also being wooed by BJP, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a rally in the Matua bastion of Thakurnagar last month.
Asked about the absence of Sugata Bose from the list, Banerjee said “he did not get permission from Harvard to contest”.
In Darjeeling, which saw violent agitations in 2017 for a separate state of Gorkhaland, the Trinamool ticket went to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binay Tamang faction) MLA Amar Singh Rai. “GJM and Trinamool Congress will… campaign together and even share party offices,” said Banerjee.