With the TMC announcing 291 candidates for the West Bengal Assembly polls on Friday, at least 12 celebrities, mostly under the age of 40, have found their names in the list.
These celebrities include actors June Malia, Saayoni Ghosh, Sayantika Banerjee and Kanchan Mullick; singer Aditi Munshi; director Raj Chakraborty; and cricketer Manoj Tiwary. Some of them had joined the TMC a few days ago. The TMC has also given tickets to Dalit writer Manoranjan Byapari and former Mohun Bagan captain Bidesh Bose.
According to a party insider, the decision to field celebrities is an effort by the party to encourage young and energetic leaders to take up active politics and ensure victory. “There are few who have got tickets just two days after joining the party. The party is encouraging young leaders to take up active politics in Bengal,” said a TMC leader, who did not want to be named.
Saayoni will contest from Asansol (north); Manoj from Shibpur in Howrah; June from Medinipur; Aditi from Rajarhat Gopalpur; Raj from Barrackpore; Kanchan from Uttarpara; Sayantika from Bankura; and Koushani Mukherjee from Krishnanagar (Uttar).
Sayyoni had joined the TMC in February in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after Tathagata Roy, former governor of Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, filed a police complaint against her for “hurting religious sentiments”.
“I have always raised voice against injustice from outside. Now, I will be doing that as a part of the system. People of Asansol love us (celebrities), and I am very excited to visit Asansol and start interacting with people there. I will work as Mamata Banerjee’s soldier and will spread her messages all across the state,” said Saayoni.
Cricketer Manoj had jumped on the TMC ship during a recent rally in Hooghly led by Banerjee.
June, who has been one of the most visible faces in TMC programmes, said she was “surprised” with her nomination. “It is a surprise for my family and friends. As a team, we will spearhead this election,” said June.
Singer Aditi, who is the wife of Trinamool Youth Congress president (North 24 Parganas) Debraj Chakraborty, said now the ball was in people’s court. “I have been born and brought up here. People know me. I know them. It will be easy for me to work from here. I am obliged to the party for giving me an opportunity to contest the election. I don’t have to say much. In today’s time, people are intelligent enough to choose who is right and who is wrong,” said Aditi.
Director Raj, who is also the chairman of the Kolkata International Film Festival Committee, said, “I want people not to take me just as a celebrity but would like them to consider me their part. I know the pulse of the people of Barrackpore. I know their problems too. I am all set to start my work from today…”
After his name figured in the list, comedian Kanchan lauded the chief minister for working “round the clock” to ensure communal harmony.
Besides these celebrities, actor Lovely Maitra will fight from Sonarpur Dakshin, actor and TMC youth leader Soham Chakraborty from Chandipur. Santhali actor Birbaha Hansda will TMC’s face from Jhargram.
West Begnal goes to polls starting March 27 for 30 seats in eight phases. Results will be announced on May 2.