TMC, BJP gear up for close contest in four Bengal bypolls

  • Two of these constituencies, Dinhata and Santipur, were won by the BJP in the March-April polls but the winners did not take oath to retain their Lok Sabha seats. In the rest two, the TMC’s winning candidates died.
While campaigning at Dinhata on Monday, the chief minister’s nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee countered the attacks.
While campaigning at Dinhata on Monday, the chief minister’s nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee countered the attacks.
Published on Oct 29, 2021 11:12 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, Kolkata

As West Bengal registered a rise in Covid-19 cases post Durga Puja, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its main contender, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), geared up for a close contest in the assembly bypolls to be held on Saturday, October 30, at Dinhata in Cooch Behar district, Santipur in Nadia district, Khardah in North 24 Parganas and Gosaba in South 24 Parganas.

Two of these constituencies, Dinhata and Santipur, were won by the BJP in the March-April polls but the winners did not take oath to retain their Lok Sabha seats. In the rest two, the TMC’s winning candidates died.

All four districts where bypolls will be held are located along the Bangladesh border and have a record of illegal infiltration, smuggling and influx of Hindu refugees during India’s partition in 1947 and creation of Bangladesh after the 1971 war. Since Hindus are in the majority in all these seats, the BJP is referring to history in its campaign and focusing on the recent attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh.

“The attack on the minority Hindus in Bangladesh will increase the BJP’s margin of victory at Santipur three times,” leader of the opposition in the Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, told local voters last week.

“I know only sanatan (eternal) Hindus voted for me. I bow only before them and not the others. I proudly admit that I wash the feet of cows because the cow is our mother. You must proudly declare that you are Hindus,” Adhikari said at Gosaba on Monday.

“Murder of ISKCON saints or torture on #BengaliHindus in Bangladesh does not move CM Mamta Banerjee or other ruling party leaders. They play as silent observers, the sole reason behind their muteness is minority Muslim vote bank,” BJP national vice president Ghosh tweeted after addressing voters at Khardah.

While campaigning at Dinhata on Monday, the chief minister’s nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee countered the attacks.

“The leader of the opposition is saying that BJP will win these elections because Bengali Hindus in Bangladesh have been attacked. I want to ask the BJP what it has done for Hindus in India,” said Banerjee.

Political experts feel that Dinhata will witness the most fierce contest as the BJP, which wrested the seat by 57 votes, has grown fast in north Bengal. The party bagged seven of the region’s eight Lok Sabha seats in 2019 and 30 of the 54 assembly seats in the eight north Bengal districts although the TMC won 213 of the state’s 294 seats.

Though the BJP bagged 77 seats in Bengal, it is now left with 71 legislators as four have returned to the TMC since June. The ruling party, on the other hand, has increased its tally to 215 by winning two seats in Murshidabad district where bypolls were held in September.

Dinhata

Number of voters: 299,251

Number of candidates: 6

Prominent candidates: Udayan Guha (TMC), Ashok Mondal (BJP), Abdur Rouf (Forward Bloc)

Why polls are being held: Winner did not take oath to retain Lok Sabha seat.

Who won last time: Nisith Pramanik (BJP) by 57 votes

Santipur

Number of voters: 255619

Number of candidates: 7

Prominent candidates: Niranjan Biswas (BJP), Brajakishore Goswami (TMC), Soumen Mahato (CPI-M), Raju Pal (Congress)

Why polls are being held: Winner did not take oath to retain Lok Sabha seat.

Who won last time: Jagannath Sarkar (BJP) by 15878 votes

Khardah

Number of voters: 232,619

Number of candidates: 6

Prominent candidates: Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay (TMC), Joy Saha (BJP), Debajyoti Das (CPI-M)

Why polls are being held: Winning candidate died of Covid-19

Who won last time: Kajal Sinha (TMC) by 28140 votes

Gosaba (SC)

Number of voters: 230,348

Number of candidates: 5

Prominent candidates: Subrata Mondal (TMC), Palash Rana (BJP), Anil Chandra Mondal (RSP)

Why polls are being held: Winning candidate died.

Who won last time: Jayanta Naskar (TMC) by 23709 votes

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tanmay Chatterjee has spent more than three decades covering regional and national politics, internal security, intelligence, defence and corruption. He also plans and edits special features on subjects ranging from elections to festivals.

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