Kolkata: As the Lok Sabha polls enters the seventh and last phase on 19 May, the challenge before Trinamool Congress in West Bengal is how to defend the party bastions despite a ruthless saffron offensive.

Dum Dum

Dum Dum has been won by TMC’s Saugata Roy since 2009. But it is this seat out of the eight which BJP had won not once but twice and that too during the heydays of the Left Front, in 1998 and 1999. This time BJP’s Shamik Bhattacharya is banking on the support of CPI-(M) supporters to win away the seat from the TMC.

While TMC is confident of winning the seat with a huge margin, Bhattacharya is a newcomer in Dum Dum constituency. Earlier he had fought the election from Basirhat constituency.

Rina Sen, a resident of Sinthi more, Dum Dum, said, “We feel that there will be a fierce battle between BJP and TMC in Dum Dum Lok sabha constituency. BJP workers are trying hard to enter into TMC area. As a result, we have already seen violence between party workers in Dum Dum before the polls. However, Roy has worked hard for this constituency and there is a greater chance of TMC bagging majority from here.”

BJP candidate Shamik Bhattacharya, said, “I am a newcomer in Dum Dum constituency. Through several rallies I have come to know the pulse of the people. The people are aggrieved due to Jessop and Company’s closure, which is yet to re-open. Anti-Mamata wave is very strong in this constituency and I hope we can reap benefits from it.”

South Kolkata

Since its inception in 1998, TMC has been winning the seat. In fact, in 2004 the party won only one seat from West Bengal and it was South Kolkata which sent Banerjee to the Lok Sabha. Here, Mala Roy of TMC will be pitted against BJP candidate Chandra Kumar Bose, grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Roy said, “People of my constituency are aware how BJP has tried to polarise Bengal, this will give an edge for TMC to win from this constituency.” On the other hand, BJP’s Chandra Kumar Bose, said, “After carrying out at least 15 rallies in this constituency, I have felt a strong anti-Mamata wave. I feel that this will help me win from this constituency.”

Maidul Islam, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Centre for Studies said, “Although TMC will win from this constituency, its vote share may fall this time. Though the party had won the seat in 2014, there has been significant surge in BJP vote. The demography of South Kolkata is mostly educated, urban, mostly middle or upper middle class with a sizeable Muslim population. TMC will retain the minority votes and this will help the party to have their last laugh.”

Basirhat

Basirhat is one constituency where the Congress is a major contender. It’s a Muslim majority constituency which will witness a tough fight between Tollywood artist Nusrat Jahan of TMC and BJP hardliner Sayantan Bose. Since Muslims are not expected to vote for the BJP, the Congress has a good chance of winning a major vote share here. This year Congress has fielded Quazi Abdur Rahim from this constituency. Basirhat has come to news several times in the last few years for communal disharmony. TMC has won the seat twice but was forced to change candidates repeatedly. While BJP is trying hard to bag Muslim votes, the TMC candidate has already won hearts through her charisma as an actress.

BJP’s Sayantan Bose said, “The anger against Mamata is very strong, as TMC is trying to unleash terror by inciting violence.”

Meanwhile, Nusrat Jahan said, “People will vote for Didi. There has been enormous support for her and this will help TMC win.”

North Kolkata

Sudip Bandyopadhyay of TMC has been winning this seat since 2009. This time BJP claims that it will give him a big fight.  Bandyopadhyay is pitted against Rahul Sinha, BJP state national secretary from this constituency. North Kolkata consists of Chowringhee, Entally, Beleghata, Jorasanko, Shyampukur, Maniktala and Cossipore-Belgachia. This seat has a number of non Bengali voters who are expected to graviate towards the BJP.

Meanwhile, CPI-(M) candidate for North Kolkata, Kaninika Bose said that she was fighting hard to win from this constituency.

Diamond Harbour

This is a high profile seat where Abhiskeh Bandhopadhy, TMC MP and nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is facing BJP’s Nilanjan Roy.

Bandhyopadhay said, “We are confident of winning this seat. People are aware how Modi is trying to spread hatred. He is afraid of our popularity and that’s why used false claims to grab votes.”

CPM’s Fuad Halim may put up a fight from this seat.

Joynagar & Mathurapur

Both constituencies are former Left bastions. Mathurapur is a rural constituency with an estimated SC population of 29.06% and a ST population of 0.53%. Joynagar has an estimated SC population of 38.14% and an ST population of 3.21%. In Joynagar, Protima Mondal, sitting TMC MP will be pitted against Dr Ashok Kandari of BJP.

Mondal is confident of winning and said, “This is a safe seat of TMC and BJP has not been able to increase its vote share despite their efforts.”

In Mathurapur, Chowdhury Mohan Jatua of TMC is pitted against BJP candidate Shyamaprasad Halder. TMC won the seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Barasat

Here, TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar is pitted against BJP’s Dr Mrinal Kanti Debnath.

Dastidar had won the 2009 Lok Saha elections by defeating the Forward Bloc candidate Sudin Chattopdhyay. Dastidar said, “I am confident that I will win from this constituency. We have received reports that BJP is using the hawala route to distribute money among voters.”

Debanth, however, refuted the allegations and said, “As TMC feels that it will not from this constituency, it is making false allegations against us.”

Imankalyan Lahiri, Professor of International Relations at Jadavpur University, said, “TMC had won all these constituencies in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A sizeable portion may have voted for CPI(M) or Congress, but there is a chance that these votes might shift to BJP. But even if TMC votes get divided, the party will get a majority of the seats.”

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