With barely a month left for the first phase of voting to commence in the all-important state of West Bengal, the two main rival parties of the state – BJP and TMC are getting ready to release the list of their party candidates. In the given scenario, the desperation of the ruling Trinamool Congress is becoming more and more evident. In the latest news, the TMC has begun hunting for new candidates as many sitting MLAs have already quit the party to join the BJP. In order to coverup for its tremendous losses, and also to do away with corrupt MLAs, Mamata Banerjee has taken the ticket distribution process upon herself.
“The Election Committee has entrusted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to finalise the candidate list for the Assembly elections,” senior TMC MP Sougata Roy told reporters after the meeting of the 12-member Assembly committee at the Chief Minister’s residence in South Kolkata on Monday. Mamata Banerjee has some bold and radical plans up her sleeves, which she believes might help the TMC ameliorate its electoral fortunes against the BJP.
Part of this bold plan of Mamata Banerjee is the distribution of tickets to younger and women candidates, at a scale previously unknown to in Indian elections. According to a report by the Deccan Herald, TMC insiders said that the party leadership had decided to give tickets to younger candidates and women. “They are also emphasising on a cleaner image and grassroots level connection of the potential candidates in their respective areas,” a senior TMC leader said. He also added that while in the last Lok Sabha elections, TMC fielded 33 per cent woman candidates, this time it was expected to increase further.
What this essentially means is that the TMC is planning to strip many sitting MLAs from their tickets. According to One India, over 75 sitting TMC MLAs will not be provided with a ticket this time around. Out of the 294 candidates being fielded by the TMC, 100 of them are said to be women, as the Mamata-Prashant combination takes to fighting the BJP with sub-nationalism and “Bengali-daughter versus outsider-Gujaratis” rhetoric.
What, you may ask, has necessitated such measures to be taken by the TMC?
The short answer is that the sitting TMC MLAs have come under tremendous fire from the BJP, and their image has been irreparably hurt. As such, the ruling party cannot afford to have them fighting elections once again, which is why Mamata Banerjee is on the hunt for some new faces to project in Bengal in the upcoming polls. However, that in itself comes with an added disadvantage – that of the fresh candidates being unknown among the electorate, and largely being rendered incapacitated when faced with the saffron steamroller. On the other hand, the old candidates if repeated by the TMC, might still end up putting up a respectable fight.
While the TMC might think that its strategy of deploying new faces to take on the BJP is a bold move, it will most definitely prove to be the most foolhardy decision ever made by Mamata Banerjee in recent history. Further, the decision adds authority to the assertion that the TMC is no longer fighting elections on its own agenda, but has rather grown defensive, and is taking self-destructive decisions only to counter the saffron wave in Bengal.