Discontent Grows In TMC, BJP Ranks In Bengal Over Ticket Distribution For LS Polls

Several TMC leaders aspiring for tickets have openly voiced their unhappiness over not being nominated for the seats they eyed. The BJP has witnessed similar dissatisfaction among some influential leaders over candidate selection.

Discontent Grows In TMC, BJP Ranks In Bengal Over Ticket Distribution For LS Polls

Discontentment seems to be increasing by the day in sections of the BJP and the TMC in West Bengal with several leaders of both camps expressing displeasure over the selection of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Several TMC leaders aspiring for tickets have openly voiced their unhappiness over not being nominated for the seats they eyed. The BJP has witnessed similar dissatisfaction among some influential leaders over candidate selection.

At least five senior TMC leaders, including Rajya Sabha MP Mausam Benazir Noor and party spokesperson Santanu Sen, who were seeking nomination from Malda North and Dum Dum seats respectively, have expressed dissatisfaction after being denied tickets.

Even Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's younger brother, Babun Banerjee, voiced his displeasure after not being nominated for the Howrah seat, in which the TMC gave its ticket to sitting MP Prasun Banerjee. The CM disowned her brother following his outburst.

Sitting BJP MP from Barrackpore, Arjun Singh, who had previously switched over to the TMC two years ago, returned to the saffron party after being denied a ticket.

Similarly, TMC's four-term MLA and ticket aspirant from Kolkata North, Tapas Roy, joined the BJP due to disagreements over the re-nomination of five-term party MP Sudip Bandopadhyay from the seat.

Likewise, the BJP, which has announced candidates for 19 of the 42 seats so far, has also encountered embarrassing situations as Union minister and Alipurduars MP John Barla and Rajya Sabha MP Ananta Maharaj, who have significant influence over Scheduled Tribes and Rajbanshi community respectively, expressed dissatisfaction over the selection of candidates in some seats in north Bengal.

Barla was replaced with the party's assembly chief whip Manoj Tigga for Alipurduars, while the BJP re-nominated Union minister Nisith Pramanik in Cooch Behar, even as Maharaj, a prominent figure in the Greater Cooch Behar statehood movement, opposed his candidature.

Both the TMC and BJP, amidst their intense election campaigns, downplayed the discontentment.

"What you are calling discontentment is actually disappointment, which is natural if you are expecting something and don't get it. But except for Arjun Singh, everybody else is still in TMC and is working for the party," TMC spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Ray told PTI.

While 16 of the 23 sitting MPs were retained, the TMC chose not to re-nominate seven incumbents.

Two-term MP from Bardhaman Purba, Sunil Mondal, who had joined the BJP ahead of the 2021 assembly polls only to return after the saffron camp's defeat, was also dropped, and a political newcomer was nominated for the seat.

The TMC candidate list included 26 fresh faces, 11 of whom were political greenhorns. Not a single candidate who lost in the 18 seats in the 2019 polls was offered candidacy this time.

"Would we nominate Arjun Singh and Sunil Mondal so that they again betray us after winning on our tickets? It was a conscious decision by the party not to make them candidates," Ray said.

Mausam Benazir Noor, the scion of Congress stalwart ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury's family and the TMC's Rajya Sabha MP, expressed her displeasure over being overlooked for a party ticket.

"I wanted to contest from the Malda North seat as I had won it twice but got defeated last time due to division of votes. Anyways, the party must have taken such a decision considering various factors," Noor, who had switched over from the Congress in 2019, said.

Former cricketer Yusuf Pathan's nomination from the Congress stronghold of Behrampore seat initially sparked an inner-party debate, with TMC's Bharatpur MLA Humayun Kabir criticising the nomination of an "outsider" and contemplating contesting as an independent.

However, after the intervention of the TMC's top brass, Kabir changed his stance and decided to work for the party nominee's victory.

"There is nothing wrong in being an aspirant for a ticket, and expressing disappointment if overlooked is normal. But once the party announces the nominees, every one of us has to work to ensure the victory of the party candidates," Santanu Sen told PTI.

On the other hand, the BJP, which has set a target of winning over 35 seats in the state, has also been trying to pacify Maharaj and Barla.

Maharaj, who heads one of the factions of the Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA), holds sway over the Rajbanshi community, which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of the electorate in the region. The BJP had offered him nomination during the Rajya Sabha polls last year, and he won comfortably.

Similarly, Barla, who had attracted attention in 2021 after demanding a Union territory for north Bengal, is a popular leader of the STs and tea garden workers in Alipurduars. In 2019, Barla played a pivotal role in securing BJP victory in both Alipurduars and adjoining Jalpaiguri seats.

"The party has already spoken to them, and the issues will be sorted out. It is quite natural to express displeasure if your expectations are not fulfilled. The party stands united," BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.

Political analysts believe that while dissent among lesser-known figures is unlikely to significantly affect the TMC's poll prospects, given the party's reliance on the CM's popularity, it could pose a concern for the BJP due to caste dynamics, particularly in north Bengal.


"For the TMC, Banerjee holds sway, making the dissatisfaction of these individuals inconsequential as they lack significant political weight," said political scientist Subhamoy Maitra.

Political analyst Maidul Islam, on the other hand, highlighted the pivotal role caste equations played in favour of the BJP in 2019.

"The discontent might upset BJP's prospects in not only Cooch Behar and Alipurduar but also Darjeeling and some other seats of north Bengal, which the saffron party had swept in the last Lok Sabha polls," he said.

In 2019, the TMC had won 22 seats whereas the BJP had bagged 18 seats, out of which seven were from north Bengal.


Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal will be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. Results will be announced on June 4.