Why Mamata fielded her senior minister for LS polls

Why Mamata fielded her senior minister for LS polls

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sprang a surprise when she fielded senior TMC leader and Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee from the Bankura Lok Sabha constituency.

Mukherjee, who used to be a firebrand student leader, has been contesting elections from 1971 and the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will be his 10th election.

According to TMC sources, the decision to move Mukherjee to the national arena stems from Mamata's efforts to make the party one of the key opposing forces against the BJP at the national level.

"The chief minister wants to ensure that able organisers and strategists of her party, such as Mukherjee, take on the BJP at the national level. Candidates like him who have come up from the grassroots will make it extremely difficult for the BJP to gain foothold in Bengal," a senior TMC leader said.

Another reason behind fielding Mukherjee from Bankura is that TMC wants to capitalise on his credentials as a panchayat minister and a former mayor of Kolkata.

Bankura has a history of drinking water crisis and Mukherjee has been able to address the issue to a significant extent.

He is also quite familiar with the constituency. Not only did he contest from there in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections but he was also in charge of campaigning for the TMC candidate in the last 2014 Lok Sabha election, Moon moon Sen.

Mukherjee, however, had lost to CPM's Basudeb Acharia in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

"Mukherjee is no stranger to Bankura and, unlike our earlier candidate Moon Moon Sen, is much more politically experienced," the TMC leader said.

Soon after the TMC's candidate list was declared, Mukherjee made it clear that he will be capitalising on his contribution to addressing the drinking water crisis in Bankura.

"I have successfully brought piped drinking water to the people of Bankura and will uphold it to the people," Mukherjee had said.

According to political observers, the decision is aimed at the ensuring that TMC bags the maximum number of seats in Bengal, so that the party can drive a hard bargain if a non-BJP coalition comes to power.

"In case a non-BJP government comes to power, the TMC can't be ignored if it bags a large number of seats from Bengal. The chief minister wants to ensure that there are no loopholes in her candidate selection," said political analyst and Centre for Studies in Social Sciences faculty member Maidul Islam.

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