BJP ropes in West Bengal MP to woo Bengali voters in Kumaon
Over 1.25 lakh Bengali voters in Kumaon’s US Nagar district are likely to play a key role given their numbers and sway on three out of nine assembly seats in the district.
RUDRAPUR: Given the significant number of Bengali voters in US Nagar district in Kumaon division of Uttarakhand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has roped in member of parliament (MP) from West Bengal, Locket Chatterjee, to woo the voters of her community ahead of the upcoming Uttarakhand assembly elections.
Over 1.25 lakh Bengali voters in US Nagar district are likely to play a key role given their numbers and sway on three out of nine assembly seats in the district, which is also the home turf of chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. Against this backdrop, the Congress has already fielded a Bengali candidate from Gadarpur seat. The three assembly seats where the Bengali community has a strong presence include Gadarpur, Rudrapur and Sitarganj.
“I am campaigning for BJP candidates to ensure the win of the party’s candidate in the ensuing election. When I visit Bengali dominated areas, I get overwhelming response. People understand that a double engine government can be more effective for development,” said Locket Chatterjee, who is also the state assistant in-charge of the BJP in Uttarakhand.
The 48-year-old MP from West Bengal’s Hooghly is not only monitoring the election campaign but also campaigning for the BJP candidates.
US Nagar has nine assembly seats and Bengali voters have a good influence on Gadarpur, Rudrapur and Sitarganj seats. Seeing their impact, the Congress party has already fielded a Bengali candidate, Premanand Mahajan, from Gadarpur seat. He is a two-time MLA from Gadarpur but was from Bahujan Samaj Party. Later, he joined the Congress.
US Nagar has 12,29,667 voters and the Bengali community which migrated from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) after Independence, was given status of Bengali refugees and was granted land in Shaktifarm, Transit camp in Rudrapur and Dineshpur areas of US Nagar to earn their livelihood. Earlier, they had no voice in politics due to economic weakness. Now they have progressed a lot and most of them are in a good financial position and their votes play a decisive role in elections.
“Definitely it makes an impact when voters are appealed by their own community leader. Chatterjee is our community’s leader and her presence will make an impact on Bengali community which will be favourable for BJP candidates,” said Uttam Datta, BJP leader and senior leader of Bengali community in US Nagar.
“Around 1.25 lakh Bengali voters reside in US Nagar. Gadarpur constituency has 20 to 25000, in Rudrapur around 50 and in Sitarganj has 40 to 45,000 Bengali voters. Most of the time they cast their votes to candidates from the community cutting across the party line,” he added.
“She (Chatterjee) is a famous personality in West Bengal. People of our community listen to her seriously. Her appeal will make an impact in our community and can’t be ruled out,” said Manoj Roy, a social activist of Shaktifarm in US Nagar.
It is not surprising that the BJP government in the state through a cabinet decision in August last year removed the word “Poorvi Pakistan (East Pakistan)” from the caste certificates issued to the Bengali community living in US Nagar district. Chief minister Dhami had made an announcement in this regard after meeting a delegation of the Bengali community from US Nagar, who stressed that it was their long-pending demand.
According to members of the Bengali community living in US Nagar, they were displaced from Bangladesh (erstwhile Eastern Pakistan). This community for the first time came to India as refugees after partition and was settled here in 1951-52. Later, in the 60s they kept on coming here due to religious persecution and harassment in erstwhile Eastern Pakistan. They again came during 1971 when, finally, Bangladesh came into being. They were brought to the Transit Camp area in Rudrapur and were settled in Rudrapur and Shakti Farm area of the district. At present they live in Khatima, Nanakmatta, Sitarganj, Gadarpur and Bazpur.
Uttarakhand will go to polls on February 14. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.