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Millennium Post

In their 80s, ex-TMC MLAs dream big & jump ship

KOLKATA: Who says ambitions are lost with age? For some, life's second innings can also be packed with aspirations of climbing up the ladder. And, this poll season some octogenarian leaders are all geared up to chase their unfulfilled political desires even if it takes to sever old ties.

For instance, former Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA from Singur constituency Rabindranath Bhattacharjee—in his late 80s—jumped the ship to join the saffron party (BJP) when denied a ticket by his former party.

Sources in the TMC said this year the octogenarians had been denied tickets due to the ongoing pandemic which might take a toll on their health. But, party supremo Mamata Banerjee—while announcing the candidate list—had promised to revive the State Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) to accommodate 'senior and experienced' leaders. The supremo's offer was perhaps too little to satiate the young desires of the octogenarian leader, who held his contributions to the party as supreme and irreplaceable.

Upon joining BJP, Bhattacharya had vented his ire in the public. "I have been instrumental in Singur from the very beginning during the land movement that catapulted Banerjee to power and now she just does not care about me and did not give me tickets. I felt offended and that's why I joined BJP," he said.

The story stands the same for the 'young at heart' leaders like Sital Sardar (ex-TMC MLA from Sankrail) and Jatu Lahiri (ex-TMC MLA from Shibpur). The switch-over, however, didn't come as a shock to some TMC leaders. They had long realised that 'political ambitions' don't die young for some leaders. But, the question remains as to whether the 'second innings'—when foes turned friends—would fetch the defectors success?

"If somebody has a political ambition, he or she can very well become an active politician at whatever age. But it needs to be seen whether the leaders will get their due respect in BJP after leaving TMC," a senior TMC leader said.

Meanwhile, in its desperate attempts to win Bengal, BJP seems to have gone lenient over the 'age factor.' And, its leaders have been defending their choices. "We are inducting able leaders from TMC in our party," the saffron party's state president, Dilip Ghosh, had said in Medinipur, reacting to claims that BJP was taking all 'worn-out' leaders of TMC on its side.

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