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Kolkata Civic Polls: Didi’s Family First Mantra Rattles TMC Incumbents & Hopefuls

It ain’t for nothing that PM Narenrdra Modi warned on Constitution Day (Nov 26) about family-run parties being the biggest threat to democracy. Mamata Banerjee is no Narendra Modi. The same day she used the forthcoming Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections (set for Dec 19) to strengthen her family stranglehold on Kolkata by declaring her old network of supporters as candidates in the civic polls. She chose to give tickets to relatives and extended families rather than go looking for fresh faces. Ironically, she was doing all this on a suggestion from her strategist Prashant Kishor (PK) to change candidates. The TMC had dropped about 39 candidates in 144 wards. Mamata “misused” PK’s advice to field relatives– including her own sister-law Kajari Banerjee, dropping an influential incumbent Ratan Malakar. Kajari’s candidature so shocked Malakar that he filed papers as an independent. He and yet another councillor, both belonging to Mamata’s Bhowanipore assembly constituency, revolted. As of now PK is at odds with the TMC.  Didi has told PK to leave out micro candidate issues to her. PK recently skipped a strategy-meeting on the polls. Meanwhile, the strategist is sending across train loads of young men — affiliated to his I-PAC — to Goa to work for the party. Left to herself, Mamata may be comfortable transferring Bengal voters to Goa. Just to prove a point!