Mamata silent on differences with I-PAC, to streamline tickets for civic polls

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The Trinamool Congress on Monday tried to streamline the process of distribution of tickets for the upcoming civic polls amidst a few incidents of protest by making an announcement that candidate list signed by two of party’s senior most leaders will be the final list of its official candidates.

With multiple lists of Trinamool candidates going round in the public domain for the municipal elections, there are murmurs of the differences between poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC anda section of the old guard in the party.

“Please don’t ask me these questions. These are internal party matters.. You can ask that at party meeting,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told presspersons when asked about reportsof the differences between I-PAC and Trinamool Congress and whether the association between the two is over.

The Trinamool Congress and I-PAC came together before the West Bengal Assembly polls and association had undoubtedly worked wonders for the State’s ruling party as it registered a resounding victory over Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2021 Assembly polls. I-PAC is also involved in extending Trinamool Congress support base in Goa and Tripura.

After there was resentmentamong a section of Trinamool supporters over the distribution of ticket, some leaders of the party have put the entire blame directly on an external agency. “There are attempts to misguide a section of party because of an external agency,” Trinamool MLA MadanMitra hassaid.

During the day, Ms. Banerjee said that list of candidates signed by party’s general secretary ParthaChatterjee and general secretary Subrata Bakshi will be final. The party also appointed senior leader as observer of civic polls in a district. 108 civic bodies are going across 20 districts are going to polls on February 27.

When Partha Chatterjee was asked about contract between I-PAC and TrinamoolCongress, he gave a cryptic reply that he wasn’t aware of the party engaging an external agency or termination of the contract. Both the Trinamool leadership and I-PAC has after the 2021 Assembly polls suggested that the association between the two is likely to continue till 2024.

Sources in the Trinamool Congress feel that differences over allocating ticket is a minor issue but with two centers of powers emerging in the party, the difference between the old guard and newer emerging leadership is bound to surface.

“There are two centers of power in the Trinamool Congress, one at the State Secretariat and another at CamacStreet. The differences are time and again coming to fore whether it is for polls relating to KMC or other civic bodies,” political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty said. Professor Chakraborty was hinting at the rise of Ms. Banerjee’s nephew and party national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee who operates from his office at Camac Street and has undoubtedly emerged as the second most important person in the party. Mr. Banerjee was instrumental in getting I-PAC on board.

Over the past few weeks, the Chief Minister has also tried to give a message that the party will not neglect WestBengal while pursuing its national ambitions. She has also been conservative as far as new organisational and political appointments are concerned and has often rejected I-PAC’s input.

However, experts like Professor Chakraborty said that the issue relating to civic polls is more a problem of plenty for the Trinamool Congress. “For the rank and file of the Trinamool Congress, civic polls are important as control over civic bodies gives local leaders access to funds that are disposal of the municipalities. With the Opposition in shambles the tussle of tickets in the ruling party to contest civic polls is a reflection of political economy of the State,” he added.

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