Bhawanipur final push: BJP leaders, TMC bigwigs to hit the streets today
With campaign for the September 30 bypoll for Kolkata’s Bhawanipore assembly seat scheduled to end at 5pm on Monday, as many as 80 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders will hit the streets to give one final push to generate support for party candidate Priyanka Tibrewal, while several Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders and ministers will bat for chief minister Mamata Banerjee during the finale.
The programmes have been planned despite the possibility of inclement weather. Although Cyclone Gulab will not directly hit the state, Kolkata and some districts in south Bengal will experience rainfall from Monday, the weather office has predicted.
According to TMC and BJP leaders, more than 20% people in Bhawanipore are Muslims while Sikhs and non-Bengali speaking Hindus comprise around 34% of the local population. The constituency comprises eight civic body wards with a total 206,389 voters.
The BJP announced on Sunday night that 10 party leaders will visit each of these eight civic body wards on Monday. The first phase of their campaign will start at 8am and continue till 11 am. After lunch recess, the second phase will continue from 2pm to 5pm. The 80 leaders will visit 80 locations combined during the day.
“The voters will be made to realise that it is their responsibility to ensure that the honour of West Bengal is restored,” said a statement issued by BJP state vice-president Pratap Banerjee.
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar and his predecessor Dilip Ghosh, who is now a national vice-president, will address voters in the morning. They are scheduled to fly to Delhi in the evening and meet the party’s national president, JP Nadda.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, Union minister of state for education, Subhas Sarkar, former state president Rahul Sinha, Lok Sabha member Arjun Singh and BJP state women’s wing president Agnimitra Paul are among those who will attend public meetings.
The TMC has also lined up campaigns to be addressed by Mamata Banerjee and a host of ministers and senior party leaders.
“We have to ensure that Mamata Banerjee wins by a margin of at least 0.1 million votes,” the chief minister’s nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee said at a meeting on Sunday evening.
The Congress is not contesting the seat while the CPI(M) has fielded Srijib Biswas, who is a Calcutta high court lawyer like Tibrewal. Incidentally, the chief minister, too, studied law.
Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay won the seat in the March-April polls but resigned from the assembly so that Banerjee, who lost to Suvendu Adhikari at Nandigram in East Midnapore district, could contest her old seat again and continue as chief minister.
A low turnout, a regular feature of bypolls, has not been ruled out by TMC and BJP leaders.
Of the 2,06,389 voters in the cosmopolitan constituency, only 1,26,592 visited polling stations on April 26 in the assembly election. Another 784 exercised their franchise through postal ballot.
Chattopadhyay won by a margin of 28,719 votes, securing 57.71% of all votes polled while the BJP candidate, actor Rudranil Ghosh, a debutant in politics, came second with 35.16%.
With 5,211 votes, Congress came third while there were 1,570 NOTA (none of the above) votes.
In most of her recent meetings, the chief minister has urged people to cast their votes even if it rains on September 30. “Every vote is crucial for me,” she said during a campaign last week.
Polls at the Samserganj and Jangipur assembly seats in Murshidabad district will also be held on September 30 as the TMC candidates there died of Covid-19 before elections were held.