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Sovan Chatterjee’s induction may boost BJP’s chances in Kolkata civic polls

Chatterjee was one of TMC’s prime organisers in Kolkata and its southern fringes. Having served as mayor twice (between 2010 and 2018), he has his own network of followers among the city’s councillors and also other grassroot-level organisers.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2019 22:54 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee joining the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday.
Former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee joining the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday.(ANI PHOTO.)
         

Former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee’s joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will boost the former’s prospects in the crucial Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) election due next year, feel political analysts and BJP leaders of the state.

“We led over TMC in nearly one-third of the municipal wards in Kolkata in the recently-held Lok Sabha elections. The party has already increased its influence in the city and now, with Chatterjee’s entry, TMC is simply waiting for a rude blow,” said Bijay Ojha, BJP councillor from ward no 23.

Even though the BJP won only five of 144 municipal wards in the 2015 KMC elections, the Lok Sabha election results showed the party leading over others in 51 wards, including the ward in which chief minister Mamata Banerjee lives.

Chatterjee was one of TMC’s prime organisers in Kolkata and its southern fringes. Having served as mayor twice (between 2010 and 2018), he has his own network of followers among the city’s councillors and also other grassroot-level organisers.

Voting trends in the Lok Sabha election indicated that the Left and the Congress had nearly no influence in the city and a bipolar contest occurred between the TMC and BJP. TMC has 122 councillors in the civic body.

“Several of those councillors in whose wards BJP led in the Lok Sabha elections were in two minds about jumping the boat and were waiting to see what Chatterjee does. Some of them were directly keeping in touch with him, while others were in touch with the city’s BJP leaders. Now, such councillors are likely to follow Chatterjee,” said a TMC councillor who did not want to be identified.

BJP state unit chief Dilip Ghosh on Wednesday said in Kolkata that the party is yet to decide whether Chatterjee will be their face in the KMC election.

But Mukul Roy, in whose presence Chatterjee joined the party in New Delhi, said that there was no doubt that the party will gain in the civic polls.

However, a leader in BJP’s Kolkata south organizational district committee said that Chatterjee’s entry has also created panic among a section of BJP organisers and ward-level leaders, because, they suspect, Chatterjee might get some of his followers to contest on a BJP ticket.

“We’ll go slowly in inducting TMC councillors and only after taking the local leadership in confidence,” said a BJP veteran in south Kolkata.

According to political analyst Maidul Islam, associate professor of political science at Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Chatterjee’s joining BJP is likely to have a double impact.

“BJP is likely to gain in the KMC elections, especially considering Chatterjee’s organising and administrative capabilities. However, since Chatterjee also carries a taint of the Narada sting, Bengal BJP’s image of being an anti-corruption crusader may take a blow,” Islam said.

Chatterjee was one of the TMC leaders seen in the Narada sting operation tapes allegedly accepting money.

First Published: Aug 15, 2019 22:53 IST

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