Bengal elections: For turncoats, no greener pastures on 'other side'

KOLKATA: The grass is not always greener on the other side. After BJP announced its list, the same held true for some turncoats. The 'great expectations' of some of them, who had jumped the ship ahead of polls, were shattered as their names didn't feature on the candidates' list. And, political analysts opine that they (defectors) are now caught in uncertainties. 'What's next?'—a question that will haunt many — said political analysts.

Once a close aide of Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee and party's four-time MLA, Sonali Guha, became twice unlucky. After being denied a ticket by the TMC, the sulking MLA wasted no time to switch the camp. However, the switch over yielded no better results as Guha's name didn't appear on BJP's list either.

For some turncoats, the journey to the 'other side' was filled with 'humiliation.' Sources said TMC turncoat Sovan Chattopadhyay had faced a similar situation. Chattopadhyay along with his friend Baisakhi Bandyopadhyay quit the party after both of them were denied tickets. Chattopadhyay, who had been contesting polls from Behala Purba since long, was not given the ticket for the constituency. Instead, new entrant Payel Sarkar — an actor-turned-politician — was made BJP's candidate from Behala Purba. Sources said Chattopadhyay resigned from BJP citing that 'he was humiliated.' The leader had apparently mentioned the same in his resignation letter to the party's state president, Dilip Ghosh. Now, the political career of Sovan Chattopadhyay hangs in balance, say analysts.

Other defectors who didn't get the ticket in BJP include Dibyendu Biswas, Bachchu Hansda, Gouri Shankhar Dutta, and TMC MP Pratima Mondal's sister Jayshree Mondal. To save their political careers, will some turncoats now do a 'ghar wapsi?' Well, that might be the case for a few like Bachchu Hansda as sources said he was likely to rejoin the TMC.

Even as luck didn't favour all, some turncoats managed to 'fulfill their aspirations.' Defectors like Rajib Banerjee, Suvendu Adhikari, Jitendra Tiwari, Col Diptanshu Chowdhury, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, Mihir Goswami and Vaishali Dalmiya got tickets. But, not everything is well in the saffron camp. The induction of turncoats has upset the party's old-timers. And, the party is now struggling to manage infighting issues with supporters up in arms against the candidatures at a number of constituencies.

Meanwhile, sources in TMC said the way BJP leaders were showing their vengeance, the mismanagement inside the party has come to the fore. On the other hand, analysts said the saffron party had a tough time striking a balance in its list between old guards and turncoats. "A politician's relevance is directly proportional to his/her prominence in legislative politics. So, the first step is to get selected as a candidate. Then comes the question of winning or losing the elections. While it is anybody's guess as to what kind of assurance, if any, was given by BJP during induction from another party, it can be reasonably presumed that everyone hoped for a ticket. BJP had the tough balancing game to play," they said.

Amol Mukherjee, senior political analyst, and former principal of Presidency College said: "Whatever be the parameter or yardstick used by them (BJP), few of the new inductees got the ticket while many did not. Those who were denied are left with limited options. Either they play their cards in BJP and wait for future opportunities or try to get back to their former party to maintain their relevance. It is a tough call and things take time to settle. So, only the future will tell us the fate of those who changed their political allegiance before the elections."

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