Dynasty politics in the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has aggrieved many local leaders of the party, who are raising uncomfortable questions towards West Bengal Chief Minister and party president Mamata Banerjee.
Other than celebrities, Mamata has nominated relatives of ministers and MPs, besides a defector from the Left Front. This has led to strong resentment among TMC workers in the districts who are refusing to campaign for such nominees.
One such contentious issue is the nomination of Mamata’s nephew Abhisekh Banerjee for Diamond Harbour constituency, which had raised eyebrows within party factions. This seat was earlier held by Somen Mitra, who resigned as Trinamool Congress MP in January and returned to the Congress. Mitra, a former state Congress chief, had won this seat in 2009 by a margin of more than 1,50,000 votes.
Considered a tough seat with a substantial number of Muslim voters, the nomination of Abhisekh, who has never been associated with any movement against the Left Front, has angered many local leaders and workers in South 24 Parganas. Sensing the pulse of aggrieved TMC workers, Mamata, while introducing Abhisekh at a workers’ meeting, said, “He was not born with a golden spoon. He is young and hard working. That is why I have sent him among you to learn. Please help him and ensure his victory.”
Many Trinamool Congress workers contested Mamata’s repeated claim at public meetings, “I have no family, and after the demise of my mother, the people of Bengal are my family members.”
A TMC leader, on conditions of anonymity, said, “Though there is a wave in our favour and Didi’s charisma still works among the masses, what was the need to field Abhisekh? Making him president of the All India Trinamool Yuva without any political experience had also led to murmurs in the party. Workers are angry and there are rumblings within the party in the district.”
Mamata too had recently criticised dynasty politics within the Congress and during an interview on a TV channel, lost her temper when asked about Abhisekh’s nomination. “First go and ask Sonia Gandhi on this issue,” was her reply.
Trinamool Congress workers in Bardhaman district are also unhappy with the party’s nominees.
For the Bardhaman-Durgapur seat, the party has nominated Mumtaz Sanghamitra, wife of West Bengal Animal Husbandry Minister, Nure Alam Chowdhury, a former Calcutta High Court Judge, angering party workers in the district, whose local leaders had for decades combated the onslaught of the CPM, only to be deprived of their chances.
One of them said, “She might be a famous gynaecologist in Kolkata, but what is her contribution to the party? She was nominated just because she happens to be a minister’s wife. Our workers are not feeling enthused at all.”
Another nomination in the same district from the Bardhaman-Purba Lok Sabha constituency has led to a virtual revolt within the party, that of Sunil Mondal, who was elected on a Forward Bloc ticket to the state Assembly in the 2001 polls, but recently defected to the TMC. The Forward Bloc is a Left Front partner.
A district TMC leader said, “This nomination will cost us dear as Bardhaman was a Red fortress till the other day and we struggled to get our candidates elected during the Assembly polls. Both Bardhaman-Durgapur and Bardhaman-Purba were won by the CPM in the last Lok Sabha polls.
“While Mumtaz is an unknown face, Mondal is considered a defector who till the other day was an ally of the CPM, and both these nominees are a liability for us. Workers are very angry, but we are trying our best to convince them, as this is a crucial election for the party.”
Another TMC nominee, Pratima Naskar from Joynagar Lok Sabha constituency in South 24 Parganas, was a state civil servant till recently. Daughter of Gobindo Chandra Naskar, sitting party MP from Bongaon (SC), she was made to resign her post as a WBCS officer and fielded as a candidate, after her father was denied a party ticket on grounds of old age.
“Gobindoda is a veteran leader and well respected. Depriving him and instead nominating his daughter from another district has led to dissatisfaction among the workers in both districts,” a party leader said.
As such, to quell the revolt within the TMC, particularly in the districts, Mamata is deputing state ministers and confidants to convince the party workers to work unitedly during the elections.