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Mamata Banerjee's Candidate List for 2019 Polls Celebrates Womanhood But Lacks Political Punch

Banerjee’s penchant for star power from her state’s very own Tinseltown was yet again apparent in her choice of silver screen divas and political green horns, Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty.

Sougata Mukhopadhyay | CNN-News18

Updated:March 13, 2019, 10:03 AM IST
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Mamata Banerjee's Candidate List for 2019 Polls Celebrates Womanhood But Lacks Political Punch
File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
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Kolkata: Besides replacing eight of the 34 sitting MPs, at least three of whom have voluntarily decided to step aside, and fielding a commendable 41 per cent women candidates for her 2019 battle, Mamata Banerjee’s candidate list for Bengal looked devoid of a firm political statement which she is, otherwise, known to be prolific at.

Banerjee’s penchant for star power from her state’s very own Tinseltown was yet again apparent in her choice of silver screen divas and political green horns, Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty. The duo may have been rewarded for their sustained presence beside Banerjee at Trinamool Congress daises over the past few years but their political acumen yet remains tested.

While Nusrat was fielded from the sensitive seat of Basirhat in North 24 Parganas, a region that witnessed violent communal clashes in July 2017, Mimi was offered the prestigious seat of Jadavpur, adjoining Kolkata.

Interestingly, Jadavpur has remained the cradle of high-profile political fights in the past. It was in this very constituency that the Trinamool supremo had defeated Left heavyweight Somnath Chatterjee back in 1984 and announced her arrival in Indian politics when she was just 29 and a member of the Congress. The area also served as the favourite assembly seat for former Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee who stood and won from here at a stretch from 1987 to 2006.

One wonders if Banerjee is relying on her political image and the strength of her party’s grassroots in this seat to tide past the challenge of the Left, which still hold considerable influence amongst the voters of Jadavpur.

With filmstars Moon Moon Sen, Shatabdi Roy and Dev getting repeated in the poll fray this time, Banerjee’s aim seems to be keeping the flag of Bengal’s popular culture flying high in the corridors of Parliament for a second consecutive term.

Banerjee’s preference for Mahua Moitra, the dynamic spokesperson of the party, to replace actor Tapas Pal in the Krishnanagar seat indicates her motive to weed out tainted leaders who no longer command the following of the ranks. Pal’s infamous public remark in 2014 to send boys to the houses of CPM women and have them raped and later getting arrested for his alleged involvement in the Rose Valley Ponzi scam that led to his detention in prison for over a year had left the Trinamool red-faced. Pal, reportedly unwell, seems to have been good riddance for Banerjee.

But net-net, the Trinamool candidate list overtly relies on the tried-and-tested faces of the party. Almost all the winners of 2014, save eight, have been repeated. Even Subrata Mukherjee, who has won a ticket from Bankura and is looking forward to his maiden shot at becoming a parliamentarian, is a political veteran and a cabinet minister in the Mamata Banerjee government.

Clearly, in this high-stakes political battle against the BJP, Mamata Banerjee is not looking to take many chances and experiment with faces. Not at least with her candidates.
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