AMONG TMC candidates for the coming Lok Sabha elections are as many as five movie stars, reconfirming Mamata Banerjee's faith in their glamour plus her clout ensuring a win in the elections. In 2014, when she had fielded the same number of cinema luminaries, all had won.
Of the five from last time, three have been repeated - Dev alias Deepak Adhikari and actress Shatabdi Roy are seeking re-election from Ghatal and Birbhum constituencies, while Moon Moon Sen has been shifted from Bankura to Asansol, where the BJP is likely to field sitting MP Babul Supriyo again. The two new faces are young actors Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, who have been fielded from the difficult seats of Jadavpur and Basirhat respectively.
The two film stars who have been dropped from last time are Sandhya Roy and Tapas Pal. While Roy asked to be excused due to ill health, Pal is facing allegations in the Rose Valley chit fund scam. Click here for election stories
In West Bengal, Mamata, seeking to carve out a space occupied by the Congress and CPM, was the first politician to turn to the tinsel world. Her first recruits were Pal and Shatabdi Roy, back in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. With both winning, she has consistently stuck to the strategy.
Besides Lok Sabha, Mamata has made actors Debashree Roy and Nayana Bandyopadhyay candidates in Assembly polls.
Mimi Chakraborty, 30, Jadavpur
Chakraborty rose to fame with the Bengali mega TV serial Gaaner Oparey (2010-2011), and had her first commercial success in 2012 with films Bojhena Shey Bojhena and Bapi Bari Jaa.
A heavyweight seat, Jadavpur was from where Mamata made her political debut, defeating CPM stalwart Somnath Chatterjee, back in 1984. Later, Krishna Bose, wife of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's nephew Sisir Bose, CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty and Harvard professor and Krishna Bose's son Sugata Bose won the Lok Sabha polls from there. In 2014, Sugata Bose had defeated sitting MP Sujan Chakraborty by over 1.2 lakh votes.
Besides, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was a five-time MLA from Jadavpur Assembly constituency - one of the seven Assembly segments under the Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency. A part of the seat, which has a large number of young voters, falls under Kolkata.
Sources in the party said one reason for giving Chakraborty, an "outsider", the ticket was the infighting in Baruipur and Bhangar areas of the constituency.
Welcoming the opportunity given to her by the TMC, Chakraborty said, "I am sure the people will give chance to a young person like me. I have so many things to learn from them."
Nusrat Jahan, 29, Basirhat
Having won a beauty contest in 2010, Nusrat Jahan soon after landed her first feature film, Shotru. But in 2012, she ran into trouble, accused of shielding the prime accused in the Park Street rape case. After a year in hiatus, she received commercial success in 2013 with Khoka 420 and Khiladi, and has starred in a number of movies since.
While Nusrat Jahan will benefit from the approximately 54 per cent Muslim votes in the seat, given that the constituency shares the most porous stretch of Bengal's 2,217-km border with Bangladesh, the TMC candidate will face questions over cow smuggling, infiltration and communal violence. In July 2017, Basirhat had seen riots following a social media post on Prophet Mohammed.
Besides, the BJP has been on the rise in Basirhat. In the 2014 Assembly bypolls, BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya had won from Basirhat Dakshin, though he lost subsequently to the TMC in the 2016 Assembly elections. "I have come here to listen to people and address their problems," Jahan said.
Shatabdi Roy, 49, Birbhum
A two-time TMC MP, she has again been fielded from Birbhum. A critically acclaimed and commercially successful actress, Roy first entered politics in 2009, defeating the CPM's Braja Mukherjee by over 60,000 votes. She retained her seat in 2014 as comfortably.
Moon Moon Sen, 64, Asansol
Mamata's choice of Moon Moon Sen in 2014 from Bankura, against nine-time CPM MP Basudeb Acharia, was considered a gamble. However, it had paid off, with Sen handing out a nearly 1-lakh-votes defeat to Acharia. Sen has now been shifted to Asansol.
Dev, 36, Ghatal
The Tollywood superstar was fielded by the TMC from the same seat in 2014, and had won by among the biggest margins among all party nominees. He had defeated the CPI's Santosh Rana by over 2.60 lakh votes.