Kolkata: Another member of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s family has made her entry into West Bengal politics. Mamata’s sister-in-law, Kajari Banerjee, will be a candidate in the Kolkata civic body polls on 19 December.
She will be contesting on a Trinamool Congress (TMC) ticket from Ward 73, where Mamata resides.
A social worker by profession, the 53-year-old filed her nomination on 29 November. Speaking to reporters afterwards, she said, “I work for the people all year round, I have always stayed connected with the people. I am happy Didi (Mamata) has given me this opportunity.”
Opposition parties criticised the move as further evidence of “dynastic politics”. Mamata’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, made his political debut in 2011 as president of the TMC’s youth wing. He’s now a two-time MP from Diamond Harbour and the TMC’s national general secretary.
Additionally, although Mamata’s six brothers have never taken part in the state’s electoral politics, they are well networked.
Kartik Banerjee is president of the TMC’s Jai Hind Bahini — a grassroots organisation with a mission to “operate at every block of West Bengal” — and it’s his wife, Kajari, who will now fight for the councillor’s post. Babun Banerjee is the football secretary of Mohun Bagan A.C. Another brother, Ganesh, was seen campaigning for Kajari in this election.
The next Banerjee in Bengal politics
Kajari was the party’s choice over its own sitting councillor for one-and-a-half decades, Ratan Malakar. Malakar had at first reacted by filing an affidavit to contest as an independent candidate, but withdrew his candidature after the TMC’s top leadership pacified him.
Kajari has declared assets worth Rs 3.89 crore in her election affidavit. This includes movable assets of Rs 2,45,56,883.40 and immovable assets of Rs 1,41,26,116.50. She shares an address with Mamata on Harish Chatterjee Street in Kalighat.
She was spotted alongside Mamata this year after the Assembly election when the TMC supremo stepped outside her house to thank the people for the landslide victory on 2 May.
War of words
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which was in power in West Bengal for 34 years, has never seen any of their chief ministers’ relations get actively involved in state politics.
Speaking to ThePrint, former CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, “Anyone can enter politics, but both Abhishek Banerjee and now Kajari Banerjee have been given entry by Mamata Banerjee. They didn’t come into politics, they came into power by using Mamata’s name. This kind of dynastic politics has never occurred in West Bengal before, even though it can be seen in other parts of India.”
The BJP launched its own attack. MP and BJP West Bengal general secretary Locket Chatterjee told ThePrint, “We have seen how one family has ruled the Congress, and now the TMC is going the same way. Mamata Banerjee wants to ensure the money stays within the family and doesn’t get lost.”
The TMC, however, dismissed the tag of dynastic politics and hit back at the opposition.
Speaking to ThePrint, party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “The party has given tickets to all those who have worked hard. Can they be denied their dues just because they are relatives? Kajari Banerjee would have made her electoral debut in 1995, but didn’t do so since she was expecting her first child. She has been a strong political worker for the TMC.”
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
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