Mamata Banerjee is no longer the charismatic pro-poor leader of 2011, whose mere sight would lead to the people of West Bengal flocking behind her without any questions being asked. She is no longer the fiery rebel leader of TMC, working to liberate Bengal from the tyrannical Left rule. Instead, in recent years, Mamata Banerjee has become exactly what she had set out to destroy in the first place. Consumed by her love for Abhishek Banerjee – her nephew, an inflammable ego and a genuine hatred for the BJP, because Mamata thinks it is a party of outsiders; the Bengal chief minister has hit the self-destruct button rather confidently.
A nexus of Abhishek Banerjee and Prashant Kishor has come to exist within the TMC. The Ma, Mati, Manush party is no longer a poor party of dedicated ground workers. It has instead become, in the words of former TMC stalwart Dinesh Trivedi, a party that hired corporate consultancy firms for crores of rupees. Abhishek Banerjee, particularly, has come to exercise near unrestrained power within the TMC – threatening to turn the party into a party of dynasts. What’s worse, Mamata Banerjee seems to have no problem with the same and is instead projecting Abhishek as her natural heir.
Mamata Banerjee’s want of having her nephew succeed her within the TMC is having multiple ripple effects. The most drastic effects were seen, in fact, in the ticket distribution of the party. On Friday, the TMC announced its list of 291 candidates. In it, candidates for 160 seats were changed, and 114 new faces were included. Twenty-eight sitting MLAs, including five ministers, have been dropped. Many new youthful faces have been given tickets by Mamata and her party, apart from a heavy number of local celebrities also finding their names on the list.
New faces being accommodated means that the TMC has let go of many sitting leaders. But here’s the thing with supremo-based parties like the TMC. Of course, the supremo has all the might within the party. However, there exist multiple stalwarts within the party, who have their own following on the ground. Mostly, supremo-based parties have the names of the chiefs known to all on the ground. However, when push comes to shove, the people of a certain constituency will not side with the supremo and abandon the intermediary. For example, the people of Nandigram and adjoining areas will choose Suvendu Adhikari over Mamata Banerjee any day.
The dropping of sitting MLA’s aggravates this syndrome, as the leaders who have been forced to retire for now will ensure that the votes from their constituency do not end up benefitting Mamata Banerjee, and as a consequence, the TMC. If that wasn’t already enough, Mamata Banerjee also has a rather voracious ego, which threatens to imperil her political career.
Take for instance the CM Mamata’s suicidal decision of contesting the upcoming polls from the Nandigram constituency alone – which is a bastion of BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. Leave alone being sworn in as the Chief Minister for a third term, Mamata Banerjee now faces the prospect of not even being elected as an MLA in the upcoming elections. That, most definitely, would mean the end of a fiery political career for Mamata Banerjee, as she would be forced to rethink her continuance in politics after losing Nandigram.
Mamata Banerjee had been challenged by the BJP to contest from Nandigram, which she has now accepted – solely due to her ego. A toxic cocktail of all this will most definitely result in the TMC facing an unprecedented rout in West Bengal. For what it’s worth, Mamata Banerjee will have nobody but herself to blame, as she herself took to readily thumping on the self-destruct button.