Why Trinamool dropped five sitting MPs from its Lok Sabha candidates list | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Why Trinamool dropped five sitting MPs from its Lok Sabha candidates list

Mar 12, 2024 08:02 PM IST

Controversies, corruption accusations, and poor performance are some of the reasons cited by party insiders for Mamata’s decision to drop the five sitting MPs

West Bengal’s ruling All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Sunday, March 10, 2024, announced the names of all 42 candidates for the coming Lok Sabha election in April-May this year.

Kolkata, India - March 10, 2024: Chief Minister of West Bengal and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) Chairperson Mamata Banerjee along with 42 Lok Sabha candidates walk on the ramp at Brigade Parade Ground to greet their supporters during 'Jonogorjon' Rally in Kolkata, India, on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (Photo by Samir Jana/ Hindustan Times)(Hindustan Times) PREMIUM
Kolkata, India - March 10, 2024: Chief Minister of West Bengal and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) Chairperson Mamata Banerjee along with 42 Lok Sabha candidates walk on the ramp at Brigade Parade Ground to greet their supporters during 'Jonogorjon' Rally in Kolkata, India, on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (Photo by Samir Jana/ Hindustan Times)(Hindustan Times)

The Mamata Banerjee-led party’s list had a few surprises, with tickets given to a former Indian cricket star, a psychiatrist, a Padma Shri award-winning Santhali writer and an ex-Indian Police Service officer, while the party also dropped five sitting members of Parliament (MP).

“We have tried our best. A few have been left out. I am sorry for that. The state elections are coming (in 2026). Also, there are portfolios within the party. I will include them (leaders who were not given tickets this time),” Banerjee said at a party rally on March 10.

TMC dropped its strongman and Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh, 62. Instead, state irrigation minister Partha Bhowmik was fielded from the constituency. Singh was present on the dais when the announcement was being made.

“I was promised the Barrackpore ticket when I was brought to the party. It was a breach of trust. If the party had told me that I wouldn’t get the ticket, I wouldn’t have returned (to TMC),” the 62-year-old Singh told reporters the next day.

Singh joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019 after he was denied a Lok Sabha ticket by the TMC, and defeated TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He returned to TMC in May 2022.

In December 2023, political mudslinging broke out between Singh and TMC’s Jagatdal legislator Somenath Shyam after a relative of Singh was arrested in a murder case. Both accused each other of having a nexus with criminals.

“Singh returned to the TMC out of fear. But all the while, he was in touch with BJP leaders including me,” Suvendu Adhikari, BJP Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, told the media on Sunday.

Two Tollywood stars, Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, who won the Lok Sabha seats from Jadavpur and Basirhat, respectively, in 2019 were also dropped. While another actress Saayoni Ghosh was fielded from the Jadavpur seat, the party’s former MP Haji Nurul Islam was pitted in Basirhat.

Last month, Chakraborty met the party supremo and West Bengal chief minister Banerjee and later told the media that she had submitted her resignation.

“I have understood that politics is not my cup of tea. Didi (Banerjee) called me. I met her but she has not accepted my resignation. She said she will take care of everything,” Chakraborty told reporters on February 15, adding that she wants to remain a party worker but doesn’t want to continue as an MP.

Jahan was a first-time MP from Basirhat in North 24 Parganas. Even though Sandeshkhali in the district has been on the boil over the past month over allegations of sexual assault and land grabbing by local TMC leaders, she hasn’t visited the riot-hit areas. The actor-turned-MP has also faced criticism over her silence.

Jahan’s name also got embroiled in an alleged flat-selling scam in 2022. The Enforcement Directorate registered a case against her, as she was a director with a shady financial entity which allegedly duped senior citizens of several crores of rupees by promising them residential flats at reasonable rates.

“As a woman, as a public representative, I have always followed my party's guidelines and served the people. With the Sandeshkhali incident raging, our Hon CM has already sent help, and necessary steps are being taken for the welfare of the people. We are not above the law. thus abiding by it and supporting the administration is what one needs to do,” the 34-year-old actress posted on X handle on February 25.

Ghosh is the president of the TMC’s youth wing. She joined the party in February 2021 and was given a ticket in the 2021 assembly polls from Asansol South. She however lost to BJP’s Agnimitra Paul, a fashion designer turned politician.

Islam, 60, on the other hand, is a veteran leader who has been the TMC’s MP from Basirhat from 2009 to 2014. He is presently the TMC’s sitting legislator from Haroa in North 24 Parganas. He is also the chairman of the party’s minority cell.

In Arambagh, two-time sitting MP Aparupa Poddar was also dropped and in her place, Mitali Bagh was chosen as the new candidate. Senior TMC leaders said that Poddar was pulled up multiple times by the party’s top brass.

“In 2016, she was rebuked by Mamata Banerjee for her conduct at a toll plaza, where she had reportedly slapped someone. In 2022, she was again admonished by the supremo for not taking calls, speaking out in public and embarrassing the party. She had spoken out against the senior TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee,” said the TMC leader.

An anganwadi worker and low-profile Bagh is presently a zilla parishad member of Hooghly district and leader of the TMC’s women's wing at Goghat block II in the district.

Another sitting MP who was axed this time is Sunil Kumar Mondal, MP for Bardhaman Purba. A former Forward Bloc MLA for Galsi during the Left Front regime, Mondol sided with the TMC ahead of the 2011 assembly polls. He became an MP for the Bardhaman Purba twice: in 2014 and 2019. In December 2020 he shifted to the BJP along with Suvendu Adhikari. But soon after the 2021 assembly polls, when the TMC returned to power for the third consecutive time, he hinted that he was still with the TMC. (He never resigned as a TMC MP. So officially he is still a TMC MP)

“The TMC’s district leadership wants to subdue everyone. Many good district-level leaders were removed. The persons whom Banerjee trusts the most are betraying her,” Mondal told the media after he was dropped.

The leader courted controversy in August last year when he was purportedly seen in a video pushing and threatening a toll plaza employee on the Durgapur Expressway. Even though he initially tried to downplay the incident, Mondal had to later apologise.

This time the TMC relied on Dr Sharmila Sarkar instead of Mondal. Sarkar is a psychiatrist by profession and is attached to the state-run National Medical College and Hospital. Even though she doesn’t have a political background, Sarkar hails from the same district.

Former IPS officer Chowdhury Mohan Jatua, the Mathurapur MP, was also dropped. TMC leaders, however, said that the octogenarian leader and a three-time MP declined to contest citing his age. Even Mamata Banerjee was seen on some occasions enquiring about his health. Young leader Bapi Halder has now been fielded from Jatua’s Mathurapur seat.

Halder is presently a karmadakshya in the South 24 Parganas zilla parishad and has been associated with youth politics since student life. In 2008, he won the panchayat polls and became the panchayat head at Krishnachandrapur village. He is known to be close to Saokat Molla, TMC MLA from Canning East. Molla is known to be close to Abhishek Banerjee.

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