TMC Candidate List: Celebrities in Tough Seats, Power Wives & More
28 sitting MLAs and five ministers have been denied tickets by the TMC.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) announced its candidate list for the upcoming West Bengal Assembly polls on Friday, 5 March. Chief Minister of West Bengal and party supremo, Mamata Banerjee, made the announcement from her residence in Kolkata's Kalighat. She also announced that she will be contesting from the high-profile Nandigram constituency in East Midnapore district.
Many new faces were given tickets in the list of 291 candidates announced by the party. The remaining three seats in the 294-member West Bengal assembly – Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong – have been left vacant by the TMC for ally, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), to field candidates of their choice.
Here are some key highlights of the candidate list.
Focus on Younger, ‘Performing’ Candidates
The party announced that it did not give tickets to anybody above the age of 80, due to the prevailing COVD-19 situation. Current Finance Minister in the Bengal government and senior party leader, Amit Mitra, will not contest this year due to the same reason.
There has also been a drive to reward “performing” candidates. As many as 28 sitting MLAs, and five sitting ministers, were denied tickets.
Sources say that two sets of recommendations were sent across to the party high-command and Mamata Banerjee. One curated by Prashant Kishor's Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) and another from district level heads of the party. The final list was curated by Mamata, based on these recommendations.
Celebrity Faces For Tough Constituencies
A key reveal in the candidate list was the number of celebrity faces that the party has fielded. These celebrities, from the world of Bengali films and sports, were inducted into the party recently.
Actors Saayoni Ghosh, June Maliah, and Sayantika Banerjee have been fielded from the Asansol South, Medinipur, and Bankura constituencies respectively. All three constituencies saw BJP leads in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
On the other hand, film director Raj Chakraborty has been fielded from the Barrackpore constituency, which the BJP holds at both the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha levels. It is considered to be a volatile area and a stronghold of former TMC leader, now in the BJP, Arjun Singh.
Actor Kanchan Mullick has been fielded from Uttarpara, in Hooghly, also a tough district and seat, that the TMC marginally won in 2019.
Actor Koushani Mukherjee has been fielded from Krishnanagar Uttar in the Nadia district. Even though the TMC won the Krishnanagar parliamentary seat, it was behind by a big margin in this particular Assembly segment.
Cricketer Manoj Tiwary has been fielded from his home turf of Shibpur in Howrah.
Folk singer, Aditi Munshi, has been fielded from the BJP-strong constituency on Rajarhat-Gopalpur in North 24 parganas.
Adivasi singer Beerbaha Hansda was fielded in the Jhargram seat in Jangalmahal where the BJP won big in 2019.
Two interesting additions to the TMC list are Ratna Chatterjee and Sujata Mondol Khan.
Ratna is the wife of former TMC mayor, now in the BJP, Sovon Chatterjee. Ratna and Sovon had a public split prior to the latter joining the BJP, over his friendship with a woman named Baishakhi Banerjee. Till date, Sovon maintains that Baishakhi is "a friend". The two campaign together for the BJP in Kolkata and have been made Kolkata zone observers for the party.
Ratna is contesting from the Behala Purba seat, Sovon's home turf.
On the other hand, Sujata Mondol Khan is the wife of BJP MP, also formerly in the Trinamool, Saumitra Khan. Saumitra is also the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) President in Bengal.
Sujata first came to the limelight when she single-handedly handled Saumitra’s campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the Bishnupur constituency for the BJP. Saumitra was barred from entering his constituency due to criminal charges. With Sujata at the helm, Saumitra won that seat.
In December 2020, Sujata joined the TMC. In a press conference right after her joining, Saumitra announced that he will be sending her a divorce notice.
Sujata is contesting from the Arambagh constituency in Hooghly, considered a tough seat for the TMC.
Keeping with its massive Scheduled Caste push before the elections, the party has fielded as many as 79 SC candidates, a whopping 27 percent of the list.
11 SC candidates are contesting from seats not reserved for the SC category.
The party has also fielded 17 Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates, six percent of total candidates.
The list also consists of 12 percent (35) Muslim candidates.
It also has 18 percent women candidates. Proportionally this percentage is lower than the percentage of women candidates that the TMC's Lok Sabha candidate list had. The Trinamool list, at the time, had 41 percent female representation.
The number of women candidates this year (51) is, however, higher than the number of women candidates the party fielded in the 2016 assembly elections (42).
Mamata in Nandigram
Mamata Banerjee announced that she's contesting from Nandigram and no other seat. This led to rest speculations that she may also be contesting the Bhawanipore seat, from where she's the sitting MLA.
Mamata has contested Bhawanipore twice and won both times. Mamata had announced her candidature from Nandigram earlier also, at a rally in the constituency.
Nandigram, the epicentre of the Anti-Left land acquisition movement in 2007-8 has been instrumental in bringing Mamata to power for the first time in 2011.
The reason this is a high-profile seat this election is because Nandigram and the Midnapore region in which it falls is the home turf of former TMC Minister Suvendu Adhikari, who is now the BJP's star acquisition. Suvendu won the Nandigram seat on a TMC ticket in 2016.
Suvendu has challenged Mamata saying that he will "quit politics" if the BJP candidate in Nandigram didn't beat her by at least 50,000 votes.
Speculations are high that he himself maybe the BJP's candidate from the seat.
“Nandigram and Midnapore have said that they want their bhumi putra (son of the soil). Parachutes from Kolkata will not be accepted,” said Suvendu after the TMC list was announced.
West Bengal will see an eight-phased Assembly election starting 27 March and ending 29 April. The results for the elections will be declared on 2 May.
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