Uproar over list of TMC nominees, Mamata & Abhishek quiet so far
Protests in varying degrees were reported on Saturday from at least 19 of Bengal’s 23 districts over the lists of Trinamul candidates for civic elections (except Darjeeling) that were released and re-released on Friday.
While some protested the lack of changes in the re-released lists, others protested the changes. Around a fifth of names were purportedly changed between the “preliminary” lists released on social media by the party’s official accounts on Friday evening, and the “final” — with party state unit chief Subrata Bakshi’s signature — out several hours later.
“Only lists with Subrata Bakshi’s signature are valid. Whatever else was circulated widely is not…. Not everyone can be made a candidate... ,” said minister and Calcutta mayor Firhad Hakim.
Sources in the leadership said the names — approved by Bakshi and secretary-general Partha Chatterjee, assisted by ministers Hakim, Aroop Biswas and Chandrima Bhattacharya — were mostly from lists drawn up by party MLAs.
Verbal displeasure on Friday evening amplified to public statements of protest by midnight and took the form of agitation on Saturday on streets in areas that would see elections to 108 municipalities on February 27.
The agitations were wide-ranging. There was an institutionally organised (Trinamul labour arm INTTUC-backed) virtual transport bandh demanding change of candidates for wards 1-7 in Kamarhati
of North 24-Parganas. There was also a lone, profusely weeping party worker, Shampa Banerjee from Konnagar in Hooghly, sitting on dharna at Trinamul district unit chief Snehashis Chakraborty’s residence, demanding “justice”.
Most protests apparently took place in North 24-Parganas, with 27 civic bodies.
Kamarhati MLA Madan Mitra said said most dissenters were those certain of candidature but who found out at the eleventh hour that they had been overlooked. “Their sadness is natural…. I am sure the supreme leadership is…making necessary judgment calls,” Mitra said. The old guard in Trinamul’s top-tier leadership, such as Bakshi and Chatterjee, and poll consultant Prashant Kishor — who is generally endorsed by party No. 2 Abhishek Banerjee — were trying to pass the buck to the other, in an apparent bid to shift blame for the chaos.
Mamata and Abhishek have kept quiet so far. Minister Jyotipriya Mullick claimed the protests were staged by the BJP and the CPM to tarnish his party’s image.
The Opposition, predictably, mocked Trinamul.
“A Trinamul ticket, given the strong likelihood of victory in the current scenario, would open many doors for a councillor, to make incredible sums of money through corruption over the next five years. That is why there is such yearning for candidature,” said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha. CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty virtually echoed him.