Kolkata, Jul 28:  Inputs by poll strategist Prashant Kishor and his team will be a “determining factor” in the TMC’s ticket distribution for the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls after they played a pivotal role in effecting a major party rejig last week, sources said. Other determining factors would be the popularity of the sitting MLA or the proposed candidate, the person’s performance in the past five years, acceptability among party cadres, ability to bridge divides within the local unit and clean image, among others, the party sources said.

“In 2016, we had an easy battle. So we had the luxury of doing various kinds of experiments while distributing tickets. But this time things are different and we cannot take chances. Proper criteria, in consultation with Kishor and his team from I-PAC, will be put in place to select candidates for the next election,” a senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader told PTI on condition of anonymity. “Kishor and his team will provide us with ground-level inputs on the various criteria. A survey will also be conducted to find out about the acceptability of the candidates among the people as well as the party’s rank and file.

“The party leadership will then take a call after considering Prashant Kishor’s inputs and the party’s feedback while distributing tickets,” the TMC leader said. According to the party sources, a report on the performance of MLAs during the ‘Didi Ke Bolo’ (Tell Didi) mass outreach programme will also be taken into account for ticket allocation. “There are reports that some MLAs did not conduct the programme seriously. This factor will also be considered,” the sources said.

Last week, West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee announced a major reshuffle in the party’s organisation, inducting several new faces and axing some old guards with a thrust on strengthening it in areas where it has yielded ground to challenger BJP. Kishor’s inputs and his team’s year-long assessment of ground realities played a key role in effecting the reshuffle, one of the biggest in the TMC in recent times, party sources had said.

The rejig in the party was expected given the growing challenge from the BJP, which has emerged as the main opposition party by winning 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2019 general election and pushing back the TMC to 22 from 34. West Bengal is scheduled to go to polls in April-May next year with Banerjee completing a decade in office.