KOLKATA: Is West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee planning to change her Assembly constituency after the BJP led by 185 votes in that segment during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?
Those in Mamata’s inner circle have indicated that she wants South Kolkata Lok Sabha MP and TMC general secretary Subrata Bakshi to be a key member of her next cabinet. Bakshi was Transport Minister in her first cabinet. Bakshi vacated the Bhawanipur Assembly seat after Mamata was sworn in as CM in 2011. In the bypoll that followed, Mamata won from Bhawanipur by 54,213 votes. Bakshi won by 2,30,099 votes from the Kolkata South Lok Sabha seat which Mamata had vacated.
During the Lok Sabha polls, BJP’s Kolkata South candidate and current Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy came second but in the Bhawanipur Assembly segment, in which also Mamata resides, he led by 185 votes.
Though the TMC won 34 out of 42 West Bengal Lok Sabha seats, Mamata was not happy as her party lost to the BJP in her own backyard and a majority in her own Kalighat locality voted against her.
Bakshi is likely to be nominated from his old Assembly seat of Bhawanipur, leading TMC leaders to speculate that ‘Didi’ might change her Assembly constituency and look for a safer seat in the South 24 Parganas district within Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency from where nephew Abhishek Banerjee was elected.
On Monday, she announced that she wanted Lok Sabha MP from Tamluk, Suvendu Adhikary, “to be an important minister in the next cabinet”. She wanted Suvendu to contest from the Nandigram Assembly seat. This sparked a controversy as the sitting TMC MLA, Firoza Bibi, is the mother of a martyr who died in the 2007 police firing. This meant Firoza would be denied a party ticket to placate Suvendu who is upset at being removed as All India TMC Youth Congress chief and replaced by Abhishek.
Insiders said many sitting MLAs, mainly actors and singers like Deboshri Roy and Anup Ghoshal, might not get tickets for the Assembly polls as they had failed to deliver. Party leaders linked to chit fund scams, including jailed former Transport Minister Madan Mitra, might also be denied party tickets. Mamata has even asked district leaders to identify “totally safe” seats in places where voters were not affected by the chit fund scams.
Given anti-incumbency and unsympathetic comments made by Mamata and others in TMC on rape, urban women are disillusioned. She would prefer a rural constituency where her charm still works.