Forty-nine seats in the two districts of North 24 Parganas and Howrah — both of them considered the ruling Trinamool Congress’ impregnable citadel — will go to polls in the phase-4 elections in West Bengal on Monday, with the party upbeat about retaining their 2011 tally of 44 seats in these two districts.
Political heavyweights from all camps are in the fray in this phase, including seven ministers — five of them from North 24 Parganas alone.
The ministers testing their fates are Amit Mitra (Khardaha), Jyotipriya Mallick (Habra), Bratya Basu (Dum Dum), Purnendu Basu (Rajarhat-Gopalpur), Chandrima Bhattacharya (Dum Dum North), Arup Roy (Howrah Central) and Rajib Bandopadhyay (Domjur).
Bidhan Nagar Mayor and incumbent MLA from Rajarhat New Town, Sabyasachi Dutta, is another heavyweight from TMC.
Besides, CPI(M)’s Asim Dasgupta (Khardaha), BJP’s Rupa Ganguly (Howrah North) and Congress’ Arunabha Ghosh (Rajarhat New Town) are also in the fray.
The phase-4 elections is a prestige fight for the ruling party, which has to make sure it retains the 2011 tally because incumbent chief minister Mamata Banerjee is worried about her party’s results in two of the four rounds already polled.
In North 24 Parganas (33 seats) and Howrah (16 seats), the trends of the 2013 panchayat, 2014 Lok Sabha and the 2015 municipal elections clearly showed the voters were predominantly in favour of the ruling party.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress won more than the combined votes of the CPI(M) and the Congress in all 16 seats of Howrah. In North 24 Parganas, they led in 26 out of 33 seats.
The Opposition, however, hopes to make inroads in these Trinamool bastions.
“We’ll have a clean sweep in these two districts. People of these areas have experienced change under Mamata Banerjee and have got the fruits of the development initiatives taken up by the government. There is no way the Opposition can make its presence felt here,” Mallick, a senior Trinamool leader and chief of Trinamool’s North 24 Parganas district committee, said.
Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra, on the other hand, is confident that the Trinamool will face disastrous results in these two districts.
“Even their ministers are going to lose,” Mishra said.