Age and image: Key factors for Didi ahead of Bengal polls

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)

Kolkata, September 3 (IANS): As the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal gears up for a high-voltage Assembly polls scheduled in 2021, the party leadership is focusing on the young brigade at the grassroots primarily with a clean and clear track record in politics.

The state's incumbent formation is already plagued with corruption charges in various districts, especially after the Cyclone Amphan that ravaged a large part of south Bengal districts. Be it distribution of food grains and tarpaulin in cyclone-ravaged pockets of Sunderbans or inclusion of ghost names in the list of beneficiaries -- Trinamool Congress' name cropped up almost everywhere.

Hundreds of people had staged sit-in demonstrations in districts protesting against the irregularities over distribution of Amphan relief packages. They also agitated over the irregularities of Cyclone Amphan relief funds that went to various fake accounts of local Trinamool leaders depriving those who were actually affected due to the cyclone.

According to party sources, the key responsibilities are now being given to those who are aged below 40-years and have a reasonably clean image in their respective localities. There is a clear instruction from the party's top leadership to give importance to young people in the organisation. All district committees will have to follow the directive.

The instruction was sent out from the senior state leadership to every booth level across West Bengal that people over the age group of 40 will not be entertained in the district committees. "The size of the district committees will also likely shrink in the coming days," said a senior Trinamool leader.

Keeping in mind the age factor and a considerably clean image of her party workers, the Trinamool supremo has reshuffled the party's organisational structures in July. To troubleshoot the party's image in run up to the next year's elections, Mamata Banerjee had made a number of changes in the Trinamool Congress -- from its core committee members to district presidents.

Announcing a major rejig, the West Bengal CM gave more priorities to younger and new faces in the party's forefront with a relatively clean political image. She had announced a new state committee with 21 members in it and a seven-member core panel of Trinamool Congress that included names of Abhishek Banerjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Partha Chatterjee, Subrata Bakshi, Firhad Hakim, Kalyan Banerjee and Shanta Chetri.

Besides this, the presidents of several districts, including Howrah, Coochbehar, Purulia, Nadia, Jhargram and South Dinajpur had also been removed. New and younger faces like cricketer-turned-politician Laxmi Ratan Shukla in Howrah, Mahua Moitra in Nadia, Dulal Murmu in Jhargram, Gurupad Tudu in Purulia and Shyamal Santra in Bankura had been given charge of the districts.

Party insiders said that Team Prashant Kishor (popularly known as Team PK within Trinamool Congress) is working closely with the party's top leadership to find many critical areas. "Various steps like preparing a unique database of localities, fights between internal factions, performance record of local leaders etc. are being taken into account to chalk out a campaign strategy ahead of the next year's poll," a Trinamool Congress insider said.