In Bengal, Union minister Babul Supriyo, actors, TMC turncoats in fray in phase 4
Union minister Babul Supriyo, BJP Lok Sabha member Locket Chatterjee, some popular actors and a few prominent Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislators and ministers who recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) figure among the candidates in the fray on Saturday for the fourth of Bengal’s eight-phase polling.
The elections will be held in 44 constituencies spread across Alipurduar and Cooch Behar in north Bengal and Howrah, Hooghly, South 24 Parganas and parts of Kolkata in south Bengal. In view of the violence witnessed during and after the last three phases the Election Commission (EC) has deployed 793 companies of central armed police force (CAPF) in these regions.
Supriyo, who represents the Asansol Lok Sabha seat in Bengal’s West Burdwan district, faces a tough fight at the Tollygunge seat in south Kolkata. He is pitted against minister Aroop Biswas and actor Debdoot Ghosh, who is contesting for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), which has an alliance with the Congress and young cleric Abbasuddin Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front (ISF).
Supriyo, for whom actor Mithun Chakraborty and Union home minister Amit Shah held roadshows said, “People want progress and they know only the BJP can deliver. We have promised to transform Kolkata.”
“The TMC works for the people round the year. Voters will give their reply on Saturday,” quipped Biswas.
At Chinsurah in Hooghly district, BJP’s Lok Sabha member from the district’s Hooghly seat is contesting against the TMC’s sitting lawmaker Asit Majumdar. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Chatterjee defeated the TMC’s sitting MP Ratna Dey Nag by more than 75,000 votes and was ahead in the Chinsurah assembly segment by more than 20,000 votes. BJP leaders feel Chatterjee is an advantageous position.
In Howrah district, former forest minister Rajib Banerjee, former TMC legislator Vaishali Dalmiya, the daughter of former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, and Rathin Chakraborty, the TMC’s former Howrah town mayor, are contesting the Domjur, Bally and Howrah Central seats respectively. These are seats they represented.
In Hooghly, former TMC legislator Prabir Ghosal is contesting the Uttarpara seat that he had won for the ruling party in 2016.
All four leaders joined the BJP at Shah’s residence in Delhi on January 31.
Branding them as “gaddar” (traitors), chief minister Mamata Banerjee had slammed the renegades at election rallies in recent weeks. On Thursday, when campaigning for the fourth phase came to a close, she even alleged that Rajib Banerjee was corrupt and he had purchased property in Kolkata and Bubai.
“The TMC knows very well how much property I won. People will give a befitting reply to such wild allegations,” said the former minister.
At Behala, located in the southern outskirts of Kolkata, the BJP has fielded two popular film actresses, Payel Sarkar and Shrabanti Chatterjee, against former mayor Sovon Chatterjee’s wife Ratna Chatterjee and education minister Partha Chatterjee at the Behala East and Behala West seats respectively.
Since Sovon Chatterjee joined the BJP, the contest is likely to be a tough at Behala East, poll observers feel. In Behala West, BJP workers held an agitation on Thursday when the police did not allow actor Chakraborty to hold a roadshow in support of Shrabanti Chatterjee citing absence of permission.
Located in the south-eastern part of Kolkata, the Kasba seat is also going to the polls with BJP candidate Kallol Khan, a doctor, contesting against young CPI(M) leader Shatarup Ghosh and the TMC’s two-time MLA Javed Khan. Cleric Siddiqui initially wanted to contest this seat but later opted for the Entally seat in central Kolkata where polls will be held later.
At Jadavpur, also in south Kolkata, CPI (M)’s sitting MLA Sujan Chakraborty is contesting against TMC’s Moloy Majumdar and BJP nominee Rinku Naskar. “It is a tough challenge because we are fighting two enemies, the BJP and the TMC,” said Chakraborty.
At Bhangar in South 24 Parganas, cleric Siddiqui’s brother and ISF president Nausad Siddiqui is pitted against TMC’s heavyweight leader Arabul Islam.
In North Bengal, where the BJP raised a storm in 2019 by winning seven of the eight Lok Sabha seats in the eight districts starting from Malda to Darjeeling, the TMC has geared up to recover lost ground at the 14 seats where polls will be held.
Realizing that infighting in some of the north Bengal units of the TMC would help the BJP make more inroads, Banerjee started taking political and administrative steps since August last year and held several rallies in recent weeks.
The local Koch Rajbanshi community, which comprises a sizeable section of voters, especially in Cooch Behar, will play a decisive role in the fourth phase.
Bangshi Badan Barman, general secretary of Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) has thrown his weight behind the ruling party. Barman said, “No chief minister of West Bengal did so much for the Rajbanshis as Mamata Banerjee has done.”