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Trinamool taps into red territory

Jamuria is known to be one of the strongest bases of the Left in the red citadel of Burdwan. The CPI(M) won this seat with a huge majority in the last two assembly polls. Mohammad Asif reports.

india Updated: May 07, 2011 16:22 IST
Mohammad Asif

Jamuria is known to be one of the strongest bases of the Left in the red citadel of Burdwan. The CPI(M) won this seat with a huge majority in the last two assembly polls.

The constituency comprises Jamuria panchayat and Jamuria municipality areas. After delimitation, two gram panchayats from Raniganj, Ratibati and Chupui., have been included.

Winds of change have blown over Burdwan and Jamuria has not been spared. In 2006, the CPI(M) candidate Dhirajlal Hazra won from Jamuria with a margin of 54,773 votes. In 2001, the CPI(M) won by a margin of 55,372 votes. But in 2009, the CPI(M) was leading in Jamuria assembly segment by only 35,526 votes. The drop in Left votes was significant.

Jamuria is best known for its coal, which is considered to be of the best quality found in this belt. The local economy depends on coal industry and trade. But in recent years, Jamuria has been facing a severe threat from subsidence, pollution and water crisis, all resulting from excessive digging and illegal mining.

CPI(M) candidate Jahanara Khan was earlier the sabhapati of Jamuria panchayat samiti. She is a known face in the panchayat area and started her campaign much before the Trinamool Congress. She stresses on door-to-door campaigning and meeting voters. “I will win this seat. Being a panchayat samiti sabhapati, I know people of Jamuria and stand by them round the year. During campaign I got a positive response from voters,” she said.

CPI(M) central committee member Md Salim and party district secretary Amal Haldar campaigned for her. To up the ante, Khan called Trinamool Congress leader Robin Kazi a murderer and claimed that subsidence at Bauripara will not make any difference to her prospects.

Trinamool could not find any local candidate in Jamuria and decided to field Prabhat Chatterjee, an employee of Alloy Steel Plant and a resident of Durgapur. Trinamool Congress supporters are also going door to door with their candidate.

To give Khan a tough time, Chatterjee often campaigned on foot in areas controlled by criminals and the coal mafia. He was attacked thrice, allegedly by CPI(M)- backed goons, and claims that mafia leader Dinu Bauri killed one of his minority cell leaders, Robin Kazi. Chatterjee says he is confident of winning the seat.

Subsidence is a major issue in Jamuria and poses a threat to the people. Though several promises have been made by Eastern Coalfields Limited and state government nothing much had been done. This is also the effect of illegal mining, which supports a parallel economy.

A sizeable number of people are engaged in illegal mining, which generates almost R5 crore a week. This is a unique phenomenon in the polls. Neither the CPI M) nor Trinamool denies the reality or talks against it illegal miners form a sizeable chunk of the vote bank.