Kolkata: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday put up a strong defence against criticism that she stressed on glamour and star power while deciding the party's list of Lok Sabha poll candidates, saying she wanted them to have a say in national politics.
TMC's list of candidates, which contained names of several film and cultural personalities, was criticised by Left parties and Congress, who alleged that the party banked on stars at the expense of grass-roots leaders to see it through the general elections.
Banerjee countered this by saying that they had been nominated because she wanted them "to have a say in national politics. The new faces have been inducted to give a truly representative look to the list of candidates".
The West Bengal Chief Minister was talking to reporters at the NSCB Airport before leaving for Delhi where she would address a joint rally tomorrow with anti-graft activist Anna Hazare at Ram Lila Ground to kickstart the campaign for TMC candidates.
Putting her full faith on Dev, the matinee idol of Bengali cinema who has been fielded from Ghatal in West Midnapore district, she said, "Dev will win. The youths should be given opportunity in politics. No one becomes politician overnight."
The Ghatal seat was last won by CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta, she said.
"I want more and more young people to come into politics. If the younger generation is not encouraged, then who will manage the affairs (in the country) in the future?" she asked as Dev stood besides her.
Besides Dev, Moonmoon Sen, daughter of Suchitra Sen and herself an actress, would contest from Bankura and yesteryear actress Sandhya Roy from Midnapore. The TMC list also has Soumitra Roy, a lead singer of popular Bengali band 'Bhoomi', theatre personality Arpita Ghosh and singer Indranil Sen.
Pointing out that the TMC list was an exercise to give representation to people from all walks of life, Banerjee said that the film and cultural personalities could pursue their respective professions while at the same time serving people as "future representatives" in Parliament.
Banerjee emphasised a difference between her party's list and those of others, explaining that while "other parties do not field them (the celebrities) in seats where they have winning possibilities, we put them in winnable seats and get them elected".
She said that this "fight is also against injustices done against West Bengal". She was referring to the Centre's non-acceptance of the state's demand for restructuring the loans left behind by the previous Left Front government.
BJP on March 8 announced the names of another 17 Bengal candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, packing the list with first-timers and celebrities in keeping with a trend set by parties in the state.
Not only the TMC list, the BJP's list of 17, published on March 8, also featured celebrities like singer Babul Supriyo, actors Joy Banerjee, Nimu Bhowmik and George Baker besides magician PC Sorcar Jr.