Voters feel that the BJP will fail to make inroads and it will be a close contest between CPI(M) and TMC.
Kolkata: The three-cornered contest at Jadavpur constituency in West Bengal has become the cynosure of all eyes this time as Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee has fielded a callow Tollywood actor Mimi Chakraborty from this constituency.
It took many people by surprise when the TMC chief put up a novice in such a high profile constituency. Earlier, Jadavpur was a Left bastion. CPI(M) stalwart Somnath Chatterjee won from this constituency twice, from 1977-1980 and from 1980-1984. This is one constituency where the CPI(M) has pinned all its hopes by fielding former Kolkata Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya. The Leftists are giving full support to Bhattacharya as they think that he is a true successor to the legacy of the galaxy of parliamentarians from this constituency. Jadavpur constituency has always had political heavyweight MPs. There were Netaji kin Krishna Bose and her son historian Sugata Bose, singer Kabir Suman, all from TMC and academicians Malini Bhattacharya and Sujan Chakravarty of CPI(M).
Though the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded ousted Bolpur TMC MP Anupam Hazra from this constituency, people are not giving much weight to his candidature. In most of the constituencies in West Bengal, the fight is between the TMC and BJP. But this is one seat among the very few which will see a fierce fight between TMC and CPI(M).
It may be mentioned that when Mamata Banerjee’s mentor Subrata Mukherjee, then senior Congress leader and now a state minister and TMC candidate from Bankura, suggested Banerjee’s name for the Jadavpur constituency, the Congress leadership under Rajiv Gandhi was not very keen on accepting it. It was a perfect David versus Goliath situation as she was pitted against CPI(M) stalwart Somnath Chatterjee. Jadavpur, home to countless refugees from then East Bengal, had been an invincible CPI(M) seat. In 1984, Banerjee inflicted a surprise defeat on Chatterjee. People ask whether the Mimi Chakraborty gamble will reap any similar dividend.
Rathin Das, a resident of Jadavpur, said, “We feel that there will be a close fight between CPI(M) and TMC at Jadavpur constituency. There is little scope for the BJP to make inroads in Jadavpur. Hazra has convened three rallies in Jadavpur but failed to draw crowds. Although the BJP brought the Great Khali for Hazra’s campaign, he failed to make himself popular among the residents of Jadavpur.”
The constituency consists of seven Assembly segments: Baruipur Purba (SC), Baruipur Paschim, Sonarpur Dakshin, Bhangor, Jadavpur, Sonarpur Uttar and Tollygunge.
The Congress has not fielded any candidate from Jadavpur.
The constituency is a mix of rural and urban populations with a literacy rate of 84.1%. In 2014, there were 15,95,746 voters of whom 8,11,441 were male and 7,84,269 were female and 36 voters were transgenders. Jadavpur has an estimated 24.49% Scheduled Caste population and 0.48% Scheduled Tribe population.
According to the CPI(M), Jadavpur is that seat where the party is a big contender and despite its weak organisation, it feels that if the party wins at least one seat from the state, it will be Jadavpur.
Bhattacharya, a lawyer by profession, is well-connected with the people of this constituency. On the other hand, Mimi Chakraborty is trying to increase TMC’s vote share with her popularity as an actress.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said, “If the TMC allows free and fair polls, then I am confident that I will win from Jadavpur. TMC councillors are going in several residential buildings and threatening voters that if they do not vote for the party, essential services like supply of water and other municipal services will be cut off.”
Surat Dutta, a resident of Kalibazar Laskarpur in Sonarpur Uttar Assembly constituency, said, “We have got help from CPI(M) leaders like Sujan Chakraborty in emergency situations. If there is a water crisis or any municipal problem, he usually tries to solve our problem. In Jadavpur, both TMC and BJP have fielded newcomers, so it will be a tough fight.”
On the other hand, TMC candidate Mimi Chakraborty said, “The Mamata wave can transform many political equations. For the last 21 days, I have been travelling to various remote villages under Jadavpur constituency and I have found a pro-Trinamool wave among the people. This has made me more confident that people will vote for the TMC.”
Sudokshina Moitra, a Professor of Electronics and Telecommunication at the Jadavpur University, who resides in Garia under the Sonarpur Uttar Assembly constituency, said, “It is difficult for the BJP to gain ground in Jadavpur constituency. Who knows Hazra? Mimi Chakraborty is fighting hard to gain ground in this constituency. She has organised various rallies to connect with the people. She is also running a door-to-door campaign. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya has been actively campaigning to get the seat. But with CPI(M)’s weak organisational strength, it is difficult for Bhattacharya to get Jadavpur.”
BJP’s Anupam Hazra said, “I am glad that people are accepting me, although I have started campaigning at Jadavpur late. The anti-TMC wave is very strong in Jadavpur and I feel that I will win from this constituency by a huge margin. I have been travelling 40 km daily in remote villages in Jadavpur and I came to know that people are tired of TMC and they want change.”
Asked whether his meeting with TMC district president of Birbhum Anubrata Mondal will impact his vote share, Hazra said: “People trust me and I have already convened a press conference and highlighted how media politicised a courtesy visit.”
It may be mentioned that Anupam Hazra faced flak after he met Anubrata Mondal on 29 April. Although he said it was a courtesy visit to pay his condolences for the demise of Mondal’s mother, it stirred a controversy from within BJP. A day after he met Mondal, Hazra called a press conference at the BJP state office and told the media about the reason behind the meeting.
Imankalyan Lahiri, a senior Professor of International Relations of Jadavpur University, said, “Although BJP is trying hard to gain ground in Jadavpur, the seat still has a substantial Left supporter base. It needs to be seen whether the Left votes get divided between TMC and BJP. If the Left votes remain intact, then there are chances that the Left candidate might win. If the Left Front’s vote share is divided, then there is a chance that BJP might increase its vote share from Jadavpur. But it is difficult for the BJP to win in Jadavpur.”
Political analysts, however, are of the opinion that in the rural belt, especially at Bhangor and other rural pockets of Barupiur Uttar, Baruipur Dakshin, Sonarpur Uttar and Sonarpur Dakshin, TMC’s vote share will increase. In the last Panchyat and Assembly elections, too, despite protests from a section of villagers against the setting up of a power grid project, TMC was able to manage the infighting well and that propelled the party to victory.