Cracks are appearing in South Dinajpur, a former bastion of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), thanks to the winds of change blowing across the state. The RSP, a Left Front partner, though is desperately trying to fight back.
The decline of the Left started in South Dinajpur from 2009 parliamentary elections. The detailed results for assembly segments of parliamentary constituency of Balurghat – which consisted of Itahar, Kushmandi, Kumarganj, Balurghat, Tapan, Gangarampur and Harirampur in 2009 — shows that the Left lost four constituencies out of seven. Biplab Mitra of Trinamool Congress lost by 5,105 votes in 2009, which is a pretty low number as far as Lok Sabha polls are concerned.
The RSP’s loss in the Balurghat assembly segment in the 2009 parliamentary elections is giving nightmares to Biswanath Choudhury who is contesting polls in 2011 for the party for the eighth time.
Choudhury, minister of women and child development, social welfare and jails, has been winning from the seat for seven times in a row since 1977. Though the Left Front did well in the panchayat elections in 2008 and municipal polls in 2010, they came a cropper in co-operative and school elections. The Left Front lost the co-operative and school elections within a gap of one month in Balurghat and Kumarganj.
The situation is worrying for CPI(M) candidate Mafuja Khatun, who is contesting from Kumargang for the third consecutive time. She had defeated Trinamool candidates in 2001 and in 2006 but her winning margin went down from 13,290 to 10,636. According to sources Kumarganj is a minority belt and Khatun is expected to sail through.
Kushmandi, on the other hand, is reportedly safe as it is a traditional RSP area since 1987. Harirampur is a new constituency due to delimitation and CPI(M) candidate and minister of state of animal resources development Narayan Biswas is contesting from here. Biswas, who won twice from Gangarampur in 2001 and 2006, is contesting from Harirampur, as his former constituency has become a reserved seat. Trinamool Congress candidate Biplab Mitra who contested from Balurghat parliamentary constituency in 2009 is pitted against Biswas. Mitra had lost the parliamentary seat by a small margin. However, Harirampur assembly segment of Balurghat parliamentary constituency was lost by RSP in 2009.
Post delimitation, a chunk of Balurghat has been included in Tapan, a largely tribal area. Not surprisingly it is an RSP stronghold but Trinamool Congress won the assembly segment in 2009.