Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP aims to breach Mamata Banerjee’s citadel in Bengal
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has accused the Congress-led and Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments at the centre for the decline of jute, textile and other industrial units.Updated: May 06, 2019, 07:24 IST
The Howrah-Hooghly industrial belt, on either side of the river Hooghly, will go to polls in the fifth phase of the general elections, when seven of the state’s 42 seats cast their vote. Polling has already taken place in 18 seats in the previous four phases, marked by incidents of violence.
In five of the seven constituencies, out of which Howrah, Serampore, Hooghly and Barrackpore have labour intensive manufacturing units, most of which have fallen into disrepair, the lack of jobs will be a key issue. By contrast, the Uluberia industrial belt, which falls within the Uluberia constituency that also polls on May 6, has developed over the past two decades.
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The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has accused the Congress-led and Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments at the centre for the decline of jute, textile and other industrial units. The BJP, on the other hand, has accused the TMC of doing nothing for industrial revival.
While campaigning in Serampore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the centre has taken measures to incentivize the jute industry. In a rally in Hooghly, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee alleged that demonetisation and unplanned implementation of Goods and Services Tax ha led to loss of hundreds of jobs in this belt. At present, all seven seats are held by the TMC.
In the Dalit Matua -dominated Bongaon reserved seat, the Citizenship Amendment Bill is a key issue. Matuas are refugees from Bangladesh who settled in West Bengal over the past few decades. The bill, which purports to provide citizenship to persons of non Islamic religions from neighbouring countries, if they face religious persecution, has run into rough weather.
Four-time MLA Arjun Singh, who recently left the TMC to join the BJP, will contest from Barrackpore against former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi from TMC. In Bongaon, sitting MP Mamata Thakur will go up against Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Alokesh Das, Congress’ Sourav Prasad, and the BJP’s Shantanu Thakur.
Locals pointed out that Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the trade union wing of BJP’s parent body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has increased its influence in the industrial belt.
“The constituencies going to the polls in the fifth phase are considered among TMC’s safest. Parties ruling the Centre and the state are blaming each other for the poor state of the industrial belt but, due to anti-incumbency, BJP’s vote share is likely to increase,” said political analyst Amal Mukhopadhyay, former principal at Presidency College.