While Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee criticised the possible alliance between the Congress and Left for the Assembly elections in West Bengal starting April 4, questions were also being asked about her decision to give tickets to tainted former minister Madan Mitra and former CPI(M) leader Abdur Rezzaq Mollah, who had once made below-the-belt attacks against the TMC supremo.
Mamata fields former footballer, cricketer, celebrities for Assembly polls 2016
Why Mamata announced candidates' list in a hurry?
Banerjee, who has fielded candidates in all 294 seats of the Assembly, hasn't in fact made much experiments with the selection of candidates this time. There are in all 94 new faces but since the TMC had given 65 seats to the Congress, its the then ally, in the 2011 elections, it had to find new faces for those seats this time. So in effect, the party has gone for just 29 new faces.
Irrespective of what the critics say, the TMC supremo had very few options this time. This is the first time Banerjee will take on anti-incumbency in her political career and there are enough examples to show that she is indeed worried.
Mamata can't ignore influential leaders, irrespective of their current positions
The fact that Madan Mitra, the former transport minister of the state and accused in the Saradha chit-fund scam, is contesting from Kamarhati constituency from jail, speaks volumes about the vulnerability of the TMC. Banerjee knows very well that leaders like Mitra are significant for her party to have its grip on the grassroots strong.
Madan Mitra had won from the same Kamarhati seat in 2011 by 24,354 votes
The latter has a strong following in the party which the supremo can not ignore. The same logic applies to fielding veteran Rabindranath Bhattacharjee from Singur, a politically sensitive constituency, which has increasingly lost conviction over the TMC leadership's promise of returning the land which was acquired by Tata Motors.
Fielding 'outsiders' and inviting dissenters from other parties
Mamata Banerjee has given tickets to all those who have joined her party after quitting their own parties or getting expelled. Be it Udayan Guha from the Forward Bloc or Mollah from the CPI(M), Banerjee hasn't disappointed any of them, although there are reports that the grassroot workers are not exactly happy with such a plan.
Particularly on the appointment of Mollah, who is known for his dubious strategies executed during the days of Left rule in the state, the general mood in Bhangar constituency from where he is contesting, is not good.
The TMC strongman from the area, Arabul Islam, a former MLA who was accused of beating up Mollah, will have to now campaign for him---a situation which will certainly not make things comfortable.
Fielding Siddiqullah Chowdhury of the All India United Democratic Front from Mangalkot constituency has also made a section of the party's supporters unhappy. Apurba Chowdhury, the block chairman who hoped of getting the ticket from this constituency, was left disappointed, as per reports.
It will be interesting now to see how Banerjee plays it if more leaders from other parties join the TMC now, expecting tickets, for she has announced nomination for all 294 seats.
Selecting more number of women and minority candidates:
Mamata Banerjee has fielded 45 women and 57 minority candidates for this election, which is much more than those fielded in the 2011 elections. The Tmc supremo clearly doesn't want to spare any effort to ensure a victory by any means.