TMC faces BJP challenge in its Kolkata bastion | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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TMC faces BJP challenge in its Kolkata bastion

May 28, 2024 08:02 PM IST

A predominantly urban seat, Kolkata South includes Banerjee’s constituency of Bhowanipur. Banerjee has also been a Parliament member from the area.

On the campaign trail in Kolkata, West Bengal chief minister Mamata reminded the Marwari and Bihari communities how demonetisation had taken a toll on their businesses. She spoke about the impact of Goods and Services Tax. Banerjee said she kept the Posta market in Burrabazar, one of the largest wholesale markets in Asia, open even during the Covid-19 pandemic while urging the Marwari and Bihari communities to re-elect Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s five-time lawmaker Sudip Bandopadhyay from Kolkata North Lok Sabha seat.

Kolkata, May 28 (ANI): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greets people during a roadshow in support of Trinamool Congress (TMC) North Kolkata candidate, Sudip Banerjee for the Lok Sabha Polls, in Kolkata on Monday. (ANI Photo) (Utpal sarkar) PREMIUM
Kolkata, May 28 (ANI): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greets people during a roadshow in support of Trinamool Congress (TMC) North Kolkata candidate, Sudip Banerjee for the Lok Sabha Polls, in Kolkata on Monday. (ANI Photo) (Utpal sarkar)

Bandopadhyay has won the seat since 2009 even as he now faces stiff competition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the constituency where Hindi-speaking communities including Marwaris have a significant presence.

Banerjee sought to strike a chord by speaking mostly in Hindi. “The Marwari community is our friend. They respect me. The Bihari community loves me a lot. I have declared a two-day holiday during Chhath Puja. I like litti [a Bihari delicacy] and worship the Sun God and River Ganga. I also go to the Jain mandir, attend Eid celebrations, and celebrate Durga Puja,” she said on Monday.

“If anyone tells me that the Marwari community in North Kolkata would not vote for the TMC because they hail from Rajasthan, I would not believe that...the Marwari community here is more Bengali than us,” Banerjee said.

Gopal Shaw, a local trader, said Bandopadhyay has been winning the seat but the situation has been changing.

BJP’s vote share has increased significantly since 2009. Tathagata Roy of the BJP finished third winning just around 37,000 in 2009 when Bandopadhyay won the seat by a margin of 1,09,278 votes.

Bandopadhyay retained the seat but his vote share dropped from 52% in 2009 to 36% in 2014. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) was relegated to the third position and its vote share halved from 40% in 2009. The BJP increased its vote share from 4.2% to nearly 26%.

Bandopadhyay, who won the seat for a third time with 50% of the vote share compared to BJP’s 36.6% in 2019, is confident of his fourth consecutive term. “The people are with Mamata Banerjee. They are with TMC. I am confident about winning. I have been a lawmaker 10 times from this city...,” he told reporters.

The BJP has this time fielded Tapas Roy, a former TMC minister and a three-time assembly member from North 24 Parganas district’s Baranagar, against Bandopadhyay. The TMC is banking on its performance in the 2021 assembly polls when it won all seven assembly seats under the Kolkata North Lok Sabha constituency.

Roy insisted things have changed over the last three years. “Since 2021, Mamata Banerjee and her party have been unmasked. Her ministers and leaders have gone to jail in corruption cases. Huge cash has been recovered from TMC leaders...being a woman chief minister, she shielded a criminal who assaulted women. ...there has been no development. Both the party and the candidate are corrupt,” Roy said.

Congress candidate Pradip Bhattacharya, 79, said he was confident of his win with CPI(M)’s backing. “A clean image is necessary for the elections. ...this election will decide the fate of the country and which direction will it go. Also, we need to get rid of the corruption in the state,” Bhattacharya said.

In the Kolkata South constituency, TMC has renominated Mala Roy. The BJP has fielded former Union minister Debasri Chaudhary, who was elected from Raiganj in 2019, against Roy. Saira Shah Halim is the CPI(M) candidate from Kolkata South.

A predominantly urban seat, Kolkata South includes Banerjee’s constituency of Bhowanipur. Banerjee has also been a Parliament member from the area.

Chaudhary said Kolkata South is not new to her. “I have been in charge of the party’s organisation in Kolkata South and the entire region including Diamond Harbour and Basirhat. So, I know this entire area like the back of my hand.”

She said TMC’s hooliganism was the only challenge she faced. “If you move on the roads, you will hardly feel the BJP is contesting. All our banners and flags are being torn.”

Mala Roy said neither the CPI(M) nor the BJP pose any challenge. “I am confident of my win and the margin will increase this time [from 150000]. Over the past two months, we have held rallies and road shows. I am sure the CPI(M) and BJP must have campaigned too even though they do have not much of a presence. The CPI(M) may get some votes in one or two pockets.”

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