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West Bengal polls: Real test for Mamata, core team today

West Bengal 2016 Updated: Apr 30, 2016 01:40 IST
Hindustan Times
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West Bengal Chief MInister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee addresses during an election campaign.(PTI)


Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her core team will test their fortunes on Saturday when Trinamool’s citadel of South Kolkata and fringe areas go to the polls in the crucial fifth phase of the assembly elections.

Almost all of them appear to be sitting pretty despite growing opposition hopes of unsettling three of them — panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, urban development minister Firhad Hakim and Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatteree — who were seen accepting wads of notes on a video from a representative of a fictitious company.

Two other ministers testing their fortunes are power minister Manish Gupta and fire and emergency services minister Javed Khan. All eyes, however, will be on the five constituencies from where the members of Mamata’s core team are contesting.

Among them, urban development minister Firhad Hakim (Kolkata Port seat) has come under attack from opposition camps and civil society members, not only because he featured in the Narada tapes but also he was viewed as one of those conniving at the syndicate raj that contributed to the flyover collapse on March 31.

“I’ll comment on the allegations after the election results are out. Let the people have their say. I am confident people will reject the malicious campaign against me,” said Hakim.

Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee, too, betrayed no nervousness vis-à-vis the opposition’s relentless campaign against him over the Narada tapes.

“Write it down, Sovan Chatterjee and Partha Chatterjee will be in the Assembly and sitting on the treasury bench,” Chatterjee, the Behala East candidate, said, sporting a wide smile while stepping into the hoodless jeep for a joint campaign with Partha Chatterjee on Thursday.

Sports, housing and youth affairs minister Arup Biswas looked releaxed. Instead of touring his constituency Tollygunge, he spent the last few hours of campaign on Thursday participating in Mamata Banerjee’s rally straddling Jadavpur, Kasba and Rashbehari constituencies.

In all the seats from where Mamata’s core team members are contesting, the BJP may play spoilsport for the Left-Congress alliance if it manages to retain its share of votes of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2015 civic polls.