Kolkata: The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, the Trinamool Congress and the Congress—the three main political parties in West Bengal—have fielded at least 200 new candidates for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections on 30 May, in a bid to bring in younger politicians.
Nearly two-thirds of the candidates fielded by the CPM and its allies are younger than 40. The CPM, which heads the state government, also decided to bench 60% of those who had won the KMC elections in 2005.
“Younger lawmakers and civic body representatives appreciate people’s aspirations better,” said CPM state secretariat member Robin Deb.
Fresh image: Workers preparing cut-outs of Trinamool Congress’ symbol for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election campaign. Swapan Mahapatra/PTI
The opposition parties in the state—the Trinamool Congress and the Congress—aren’t far behind: more than half of their candidates are contesting an election for the first time.
If the Trinamool has fielded Nasreen Pate, a beautician in North Kolkata who until lately wasn’t politically active, the Congress has fielded Swagata Das—grand daughter of W.C. Bonnerjee, the party’s first president.
“We are promising to rebuild Kolkata, and no one will do that job better than young people,” said Javed Ahmed Khan, a Trinamool Congress leader. “It also shows that the Trinamool Congress doesn’t give tickets (to contest elections) only to its top-rung leaders.”
The Trinamool Congress and the Congress said that though some of their candidates are political greenhorns, they are popular with their neighbours and their contributions to society are well recognized.
The Left parties have been fielding new candidates in the past few years—in the previous state assembly elections in 2006, 108 of their 294 candidates were new contestants, said Deb. “We are going to field more new faces in the assembly elections next year.”
Political analysts say the parties are fielding younger candidates as at least 20 million of the 52.4 million voters in West Bengal are in the 18-40 age group, according to Election Commission data.
Fielding new and young candidates “makes it slightly easier” for the CPM to cope with people’s discontent with their lawmakers, said a party leader who didn’t want to be named.