West Bengal will vote in seven phases. But with something of a flourish, in just one shot, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today announced names of all 42 Trinamool Congress candidates in the state. As many as 10 parliamentarians have been dropped. With that out of the way, Mamata Banerjee threatened - as it were -- to use the time between phases to go campaigning outside Bengal and her itinerary may include Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi seat.
Mahagathbandhan, or the "grand alliance" of opposition parties, is still key, she believes, to take on the BJP even though she may skip the next meeting of the anti-BJP front on Friday in New Delhi.
The reading of names of candidates was sandwiched between an attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Modi babu must go from power, we want to see him out," Mamata Banerjee said.
"He has somehow managed to frighten everyone. It's like black magic. Why should we be scared of a political leader? Those who are scared, they will die. I am not scared... I will fight along with all of our friends to defeat Modi," she added.
The list had several surprises.
Moon Moon Sen, actor and Trinamool lawmaker, has been deployed against BJP's Babul Supriyo at Asansol. She was the giant killer at Bankura in 2014, defeating CPM veteran Basudev Acharya.
Some new film stars on the list are Nusrat Jahan from Bashirhat. She replaces sitting MP Idris Ali. Mimi Chakraborty, actor, model and fashionista, will stand from Javavpur, the seat that Mamata Banerjee had snatched from the venerable Somnath Chatterjee in 1984
Current Trinamool parliamentarian from Jadavpur, Professor Sugata Bose, apparently did not get the nod from Harvard University where he teaches history, to take time off to contest.
Mahua Maitra, the former JP Morgan finance whiz kid and sitting Trinamool legislator, has also received a ticket. She had quit her job in London to come work in India. She was one of Rahul Gandhi's laptop warrior who came to Bengal and switched to Trinamool. In 2016, she won handsomely from the remote Assembly seat of Karimpur in Nadia district. She is now Mamata Banerjee's candidate for Krishnanagar.
"I feel very proud and honoured that Didi (as Mamata Banerjee is known) has given me this responsibility. Krishnanagar is where I started my journey when I moved back from England. It's like life has come a full circle. I have realized if you want to do something badly, nothing can stop you. You can do it, with a shot of hard work thrown in," Mahua Maitra said.
Mamata Banerjee's rivals in Bengal - Congress for instance, - took pot-shots at her for "borrowed" candidates - like Mausam Noor of Congress who recently switched to Trinamool. As Mamata Banerjee was announcing her list, expelled Trinamool lawmaker from Bolpur, Anupam Hazra, joined the BJP in New Delhi.
But Ms Banerjee is planning ahead.
"I will go to Assam, Andaman Jharkhand, Odisha... I will decide later... I can even go to Varanasi," she said as party colleagues burst into laughter.
Forty-one per cent of Mamata Banerjee's candidates are women. All 42 of them - the men included - have been invited by her to her home on Wednesday for a masterclass in how to fight elections and win them.