As the Election Commission of India (ECI) on 4 March announced the schedule for the forthcoming elections to five Legislative Assemblies, All-India Trinamool Congress (AITC) was one of the first parties to switch to election mode.
The party was prompt to declare its candidates for all 294 seats in the West Bengal Assembly. On Monday, the Left Front announced 116 candidates, four days after AITC. Congress, in a non-formal alliance with the Left, is yet to announce candidates.
AITC's quick action indicates the party is in a mission mode and the relative ease of not being in a political alliance.
The party didn't have it all easy though. Within minutes of the candidate list being announced, the infighting poured out.
In many areas, the party's cadre have decided not to campaign for the candidate chosen by the party brass.
Senior AITC leader Subrata Mukherjee, however, has downplayed such protests. "In economics, demand and supply often don't match and there is friction."
Whatever, he may say, infighting has spread to eight important districts for AITC:
Take a look
Candidate: Subhas Mondal
Incumbent: Banamali Hajra (AITC); 2011 margin: 298 votes
About 60-65 party workers from the area demonstrated at the AITC headquarters in Kolkata. According to them, Hajra is actively involved in the area's development and should not be replaced. Some Gram Panchayat members are even ready to resign in solidarity.
Candidate: Brajamohan Majumdar
Incumbent: Majumdar; margin - 31,422
Supporters of Masuf Khan alias Guddu, a local AITC leader, went on rampage in protest. They blocked the arterial Andul Road and stopped ferry services on the Ganges between Nazirgunj-Metiaburz.
Guddu is the husband of Nasreen Begum, a member of the Mayor-in-Council of Howrah Municipality. He is also the president of the oil tankers association at the Indian Oil's Mourigram tanker depot.
Labourers at the depot stopped work for hours and a huge contingent of the police and Rapid Action Force had to be deployed.
Candidate: Swapan Bauri
Incumbent: Bauri (AITC); margin - 12,697
Locals, including some AITC workers blocked the Bankura- Raniganj stretch of National Highway 60 with the dead body of a villager. According to them, he was attacked by Barui's men three months ago and died on 4 March.
Protests, sometime violent, also broke out in Deganga (N 24 Parganas), Mayureshwar (Birbhum), Kharagpur (Murshidabad), Karandighi (N Dinajpur), Durgapur (Burdwan) and Siliguri.
"AITC functions around personality and power, with no central ideology," says Zaad Mahmood, an assistant professor of political science at Presidency University.
"After Mamata Banerjee achieved her goal of unseating the Left, she has no grip over regional satraps. Their political economy depends on real-estate syndicates and the government descends to the level of even controlling college seats," he adds.
He hints at the need of local politicians having a say over ticket distribution, instead of significant "outsiders" queering the pitch such as footballers like Bhaichung Bhutia, Syed Rahim Nabi and Dipendu Biswas and actor Soham.
"Mamata understands people's pulse and ushered in glamour in Bengal politics. That's the only way to win people over in the absence of any development."
Clearly, the lack of a clear ideology and structure is leading everyone to fight for a share of the pie.
Edited by Aditya Menon
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