Flags, festoons and posters with Trinamool’s twin flowers, the BJP’s lotus and RJD’s lantern, jostle for space in the crowded alleys of north Kolkata.
Among them is the Jorasanko constituency that hit headlines earlier this month when the collapse of an under-construction flyover claimed 27 lives.
Ahead of elections, the incident threatens Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress, and its sitting MLA Smita Bakshi, whose family has been linked with the controversy.
“(Local TMC leader and sitting MLA’s husband) Sanjay Bakshi’s nephew Rajat Bakshi got the sub-contract for building the flyover and the Bakshi family controlled supply of construction material. Their corrupt practices caused this tragedy,” BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh alleged the day after the mishap. And this is what BJP candidate Rahul Sinha is telling the voters.
A day before Jorasanko goes to polls, the area offers an electoral puzzle for political pundits. Will the traditional vote bank of the Left and Congress abandon them for arch rival BJP or for Lalu Prasad’s RJD, which enjoys the backing of Left and Congress?
A Congress old-timer, unwilling to be named, told HT, “Since the RJD nominee is a relatively weak candidate, there is a chance of polarisation of opposition votes in favour of the strongest candidate — BJP’s Rahul Sinha. That may spell trouble for Trinamool.”
Going by statistics alone, Trinamool has reasons to worry. In 2011, when BJP got 6% votes in Bengal assembly elections, their share of votes was highest in Jorasanko – 15%.
In 2014 general election, Rahul Sinha got 45,000 votes, while the TMC, Congress and Left got 28,000 votes, 20,000 votes and 15,000 votes, in that order.
The ruling party did better in the 2015 Kolkata municipal elections, winning six of 11 municipal wards within Jorasanko constituency, while BJP got three. The BJP, however, bagged significant votes in two more wards.
“The flyover mishap has made it difficult for the ruling party to retain the seat,” said Dilip Paswan, a shopkeeper.
Smita Bakshi, however, disagrees. “None of the opposition candidates are residents of Jorasanko and people will not vote for outsiders,” she said.