The prestigious Bhabanipur constituency in Kolkata city is set to witness a star-studded fight where Trinamool Congress chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is challenged by two heavyweights in her own backyard.
Former Union Minister Deepa Dasmunshi is contesting as a Congress candidate while Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose is fielded by BJP from the seat.
Apart from them, BSP, SUCI(C) and six independents are also in the fray.
Bhabanipur constituency, under which Mamata Banerjee’s Kalighat residence falls, has been a stronghold of TMC since its inception in 2011, after delimitation.
The constituency which has 202655 voters is home to a sizeable number of Gujaratis, Sikhs, Biharis, Marwaris and other communities living alongside Bengalis.
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TMC General Secretary and Banerjee’s trusted lieutenant, Subrata Bakshi had won the seat in 2011 when the party fought the election in alliance with Congress by nearly 50,000 votes defeating his nearest CPI-M rival Narayan Prasad Jain.
Within a few months Bakshi had vacated the seat to pave the way for Mamata Banerjee, who was an MP, to get elected to the state Assembly.
Banerjee had won the bypoll with a margin of 54,000 votes defeating her nearest CPI(M) rival Nandini Mukherjee. Bakshi later won the Kolkata South Lok Sabha seat vacated by Banerjee.
Bhabanipur, which takes the pride of having Banerjee as the MLA, has never disappointed TMC except 2014 Lok Sabha polls when BJP had managed to get a slender lead from this Assembly segment under Kolkata South Lok Sabha constituency.
During the Lok Sabha polls, BJP’s Kolkata South candidate and current Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy came second to Bakshi, but took a lead in the Bhawanipore Assembly segment.
Banerjee in spite of her hectic schedule as Chief Minister and TMC supremo has focused on her constituency.
“In other constituencies, the fight may be of winning or losing. But in Bhabanipur the fight is to increase the margin than last time, because we’ll know that didi will win in this seat,” party leader Firhad Hakim said.
Hakim refuted the claim that the alliance between CPI-M and Congress had made the fight tougher in Bhabanipur.
“Why only CPI(M) and Congress, BJP can also join them. People will vote for development and TMC will win,” he said.
Deepa Dasmunshi, the alliance candidate and wife of ailing Congress leader P R Dasmunsi, felt that people would vote against corruption and lawlessness.
“People are fed up with the corruption and lawlessness of TMC. People want peace and democracy to be established in Bengal and it will start from the Bhabanipur constituency,” Dasmunshi, fondly called ‘Boudi’, said.
“Five years back people had voted in favour of TMC with lot of hopes. It has not only failed, but has also betrayed the masses under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee,” she said.
Dasmunshi, a bete noire of Mamata told, “TMC had betrayed Congress after coming to power in Bengal in 2011. People in 2016 will give TMC a befitting reply for betraying people and Congress.”
Top CPI-M leaders, Mohammed Salim, CPI-M state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra and others held joint rallies and roadshows along with top Congress leaders in the prestigious constituency.
On the other hand, a political greenhorn who is pitted against battle-hardened adversaries, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s grand-nephew Chandra Kumar Bose feels it is not a fight between personalities but a fight between principles, development and neglect.
“It is a fight between the BJP’s agenda of development and the Trinamool’s misgovernance, corruption, lawlessness and neglect. And I am confident of winning in Bhabanipur. In 2014 only BJP had taken a lead from this segment,” Bose said.
Asked if he is worried about the alliance, Bose said, “Not at all. It’s an unholy alliance to fool the people of Bengal. They are fighting against each other in Kerala and are fighting together in Bengal,”.