If Nitish, Jaya can change candidates ahead of polls, why Mamata can't drop accused contestants?

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalithaa, who is also the supremo of the AIADMK, on Monday changed eight candidates for the May 16 Assembly election in the state. The latest reshuffle is the eighth in the list put up by the ruling party and a total of 21 candidates have been changed so far. The last date of filing nomination for the election is April 29.

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In West Bengal, on the other hand, Mamata Banerjee, the chief of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) said at a rally in Kolkata recently that if she had known about the Narada sting operation accusing a number of candidates in her party of corruption earlier, she could have given it a thought.

But since she had already finalised the names of her party's candidates (she announced the list on March 4, the day the Election Commission announced the election schedule), she could not do anything. [Why Murshidabad will be interesting to watch on April 21]

mamata banerjee

But if Jayalalithaa can reshuffle her candidate's list so often, why couldn't Mamata Banerjee?

Mamata had much time to replace tainted candidates but she didn't

The Narada sting operation issue was broken on March 14 while the last date of filing nomination for the third phase to be held on April 21, in which a number of accused TMC leaders are contesting, was April 4. Didn't Mamata Banerjee get time to replace those names all this while? The same goes with some of the remaining phases of the election as well. [What if Mamata loses this election?]

If Jayalalithaa or Nitish can change candidates, why can't Mamata Banerjee?

Banerjee certainly could have done it like Jayalalithaa or even Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of the neighbouring Bihar who asked an influential minister in his government to resign and also the party withdrew his candidature ahead of last year's Assembly election after a sting operation footage saw him allegedly receiving bribe. [As Kolkata polls approach, Mamata gets desperate to distance herself from tainted TMC leaders]

Two reasons why she cant: Reason 1: Mamata is too hasty in doing things

The TMC chief could not do this mainly because of two reasons. First, being mercurial in nature, Banerjee is known to take hasty steps in whatever issues she deals with. She, as always, was overconfident and arrogant when the charges surfaced against some of her party leaders, thinking the Opposition was too weak to take advantage of it.

But as the sting operation shows in the Opposition party camps went on for days, throwing pictures of one leader after another and a flyover came crashing down in Kolkata, revealing more about the syndicate---a vital cog in the machinery of party politics in West Bengal in all ages, Banerjee came under more pressure.

The TMC supremo should have taken things patiently and distance herself from the fiasco by ordering a probe at the very beginning and put a hold on the accused leaders' nomination. That would have sent a positive signal at least, no matter what the end result is. But the unpredictable and impatient TMC supremo burnt her own bridges to exit.

Reason 2: Mamata's party has very few leaders; party may collapse if she suspends so many candidates

The second reason why Banerjee couldn't do a Jayalalithaa is perhaps because her party has very few leaders and far too many opportunistic people. Cancelling the nomination of so many people at one go could spell disaster for her party noy just because she has no reserve faces to fall back on but also taking such a step would have validated the Opposition's claim that her leaders had indeed taken bribe two years ago when the sting operation was carried out. That could have seen the TMC implode just ahead of the elections.

Hence Mamata Banerjee continued to shield her party and its accused leaders, banking on her own image of honesty. But even that defence has a limited capacity and the long election in Bengal this year is seeing that slowly crumbling.

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