West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has made a huge political gamble, which could end up costing the TMC supremo her entire political career. The Trinamool Congress Friday announced the complete list of its candidates who will be fighting the upcoming polls in the state. 291 names were announced by the TMC, while three seats in the state’s hilly region would be contested by its ally – Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM). The news, however, is that Mamata Banerjee has decided to contest from one seat alone, and that is not her traditional fortress of Bhowanipore. Instead, Mamata will be contesting from Nandigram.
This, in accordance with the BJP’s challenge thrown at Mamata Banerjee, in which she was dared to contest the upcoming elections from Nandigram constituency. Suvendu Adhikari – former TMC stalwart who switched sides to the BJP has said that he will see the chief minister in the battlefield, and will quit politics if she does not lose in his stronghold by over 50,000 votes. “We want the son of Midnapore, not outsiders. We will see you on the battlefield. On May 2, you will lose and leave,” he said.
Announcing her own candidature, Mamata said, “I always keep my promises. I will contest from Nandigram… I will go to Nandigram on March 9, and I will file my nomination in Haldia on March 10…Khela hobe, dekha hobe, jeta hobe.” While Mamata Banerjee is trying to put up a lot of bravado, with barely a few weeks to go before the state is gripped by election fever, it must be mentioned that the once ‘rebel’ leader of Bengal has been forced to act according to the narrative set for her by the BJP. Had the BJP not thrown a challenge at her, she would most definitely not even think of entering the stronghold of Suvendu Adhikari, while abandoning her other seat in South Kolkata.
However, in order to display that she still has it in her to win elections, Mamata Banerjee has made a suicidal move of contesting from Nandigram alone. 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.
The BJP would not have thrown an open challenge to the TMC supremo if they were even a tad bit unsure of not winning Nandigram themselves. That they did, and laid a trap for Mamata Banerjee henceforth, which she has now fallen into, shows the shrewdness of BJP’s politics.
Of the candidates announced by the TMC, fifty of the 291 – about 17 per cent – are women, and 42 (14 per cent) are Muslim. 79 Scheduled Caste candidates (27 per cent) and 17 Scheduled Tribe candidates (6 per cent) have got tickets. The number of Muslim candidates has dropped from 57 to 42 this time around, quite an indication of the TMC’s catching-up politics with the BJP. Candidates for 160 seats have been changed, and 114 new faces have been included in the list of candidates. Twenty-eight sitting MLAs, including five ministers, have been dropped.