New Delhi: In a bid to arrest anti-incumbency and complaints of widespread corruption, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is mulling over changing at least 50% of its sitting MLAs in the Assembly elections in West Bengal, due in May next year.
According to sources within the TMC, the party is working towards finalising the decision to replace its 110 sitting MLAs, which includes some heavyweight ministers present in the current TMC-led government in West Bengal. The TMC presently has 211 MLAs in the 294-seat Assembly.
“There have been reports of corruption and malpractices by several of the TMC MLAs and the top boss (Mamata Banerjee) has received a detailed report on the same. The party is taking this seriously and one could expect many surprises once we come close to the elections,” a TMC leader from Bengal told The Sunday Guardian.
Sources from the TMC also confirmed that a detailed report on the work of the MLAs and feedback from their constituencies which has been done by Prashant Kishor-led I-PAC has been submitted to Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. Abhishek Banerjee is presently looking after the day-to-day work of the party and is directly taking care of the political consulting company, I-PAC.
Party insiders have told this correspondent that the report presented by I-PAC has suggested that at least 110 MLAs need to be replaced since they were facing serious anti-incumbency in their constituencies. The report also details the complaints about the MLAs that his or her constituents have mentioned to the surveying team of I-PAC.
“I-PAC has submitted a detailed report naming several MLAs who need to be replaced. The report also mentions that 110 seats are such that the party could lose if the candidate was not changed. These candidates have a very negative image in their constituents. And these MLAs include some ministers and close aides of Mamata Banerjee,” a party functionary who has seen the reports of the survey told this correspondent.
The Sunday Guardian had done a story on 6 September, titled, “TMC losing ground rapidly, finds survey”, regarding a survey carried out by I-PAC in which it had found that the TMC was losing on 75 seats and that 127 seats would be a battleground for the party.
Sources have also confirmed to this newspaper that Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC is unhappy with the present Transport Minister of Bengal, Shubendu Adhikari and that Prashant Kishor has sidelined him from party affairs. Team Prashant Kishor has also reported about Shubendu Adhikari to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and has suggested replacing him.
Shubendu Adhikari was one of the closest aides of Mamata Banerjee, but since the last few months, Adhikari has stopped attending party meetings and has distanced himself from the party.
Another Minister who could face the axe due to Kishor’s survey is Bengal’s food minister Jyotipriya Mullick. According to I-PAC members, Mullick is facing severe anti-incumbency in his constituency, Habra. Mullick was also the Food Minister of Bengal when the Bengal government was facing serious allegations of corruption against the ration distribution in Bengal just months back.
Sources also say that Mamata Banerjee and her nephew, who is the apparent political heir of the TMC, is taking the suggestions from Prashant Kishor seriously. It was Abhishek Banerjee who had hired Prashant Kishor and his political consulting firm I-PAC after losing 50% of the seats to the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.