Celebrities, Tollywood have-beens and stars with a rather large stomach for outrageous comments have made their way into the TMC. The Trinamool Congress is fighting the most important battle since its inception, as the saffron party takes to pounding the ruling regime’s very foundations in West Bengal. One would have thought that the TMC would put up a spirited fight against the BJP, however, its decision of fielding celebrities in all important seats, where the saffron party has an upper hand shows how the ruling party of Bengal has no achievements to account for with which it can reach out to people of such constituencies.
As such, it has chosen the easier way and a strategy which Mamata Banerjee has historically not shied away from – fielding multiple celebrities who know nothing about politics. The TMC’s candidate list is star-studded, so much so that the glamour would perhaps end up hurting the voters’ eyes, which as a consequence, might hurt the TMC’s fortunes. Another factor that the TMC has historically accounted for in the pitching of celebrities from certain constituencies is the factionalism on such seats. Choosing one faction over the other in ticket distribution would ensure that the TMC votes themselves split in the constituency. Fielding celebrities helps Mamata Banerjee push such internal feuds under the rug.
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The star candidates have been fielded in what are some of the most challenging seats for the TMC in Bengal. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP was either ahead of TMC candidates in these assembly segments or trailed marginally. Make no mistake, the BJP too is investing heavily in celebrities; with one intention – that of debunking TMC’s assertions of the saffron party being an ‘outside’ force in Bengal. The TMC’s fielding of celebrities, meanwhile, reeks of desperation alone.
Tollywood actors Saayoni Ghosh and June Malia have been fielded as TMC candidates from the Asansol South and Medinipur constituencies respectively. Film director Raj Chakraborty has been fielded from the Barrackpore assembly constituency, a stronghold for BJP MP Arjun Singh. TMC MLA from Barrackpore, Shilbhadra Dutta too joined the BJP, making the constituency extremely difficult to recapture for Trinamool due to internal dissension and a practical absence of suitable candidates.
According to News18, fielding actor Kanchan Mullick from Uttarpara is also a strategic step by the TMC to handle the factional feud in the Hooghly district. Actor Koushani Mukherjee has been fielded from Krishnanagar North in the Nadia district, while singers like Aditi Munshi and Birbaha Hansda have been selected by Mamata Banerjee to contest from Rajarhat-Gopalpur in the North 24 Parganas and Jhargram in Jangalmahal respectively. Cricketer Manoj Tiwary will be contesting from his hometown Shibpur in the Howrah district on a TMC ticket.
Actor Sayantika Banerjee is being made to contest by the TMC on Bankura seat, which is currently held by the Congress party. It is unlikely that the TMC’s investments in celebrities, especially on the seats that have shown to favour the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will yield desired returns. The TMC is playing a big gamble by fielding well-known celebrities who know nothing about governance or public representation, especially when the BJP is promising to make a ‘Sonar Bangla’ if voted to power.