For Babul Supriyo, much is at stake in Asansol. The singer-turned-politician, who stunned the ruling Trinamool Congress by winning the Lok Sabha seat in the elections held last year, has left no stone unturned to ensure that BJP forms the board in Asansol Municipal Corporation.
The civic body, along with Bidhannangar, is going to polls on October 3, in what has been billed as a a dress rehearsal for the Assembly elections next year. The campaigning ended Thursday afternoon.
Supriyo, the Union Minister of State for Urban Development, campaigned extensively in Asansol area and also roped in several star campaigners including actor-turned politician Rupa Ganguly.
“I tried to deliver the message to people how they have been deprived of basic amenities such as drinking water, good roads, street lights and a proper drainage system. First the Left Front ignored Asansol and not its the TMC government, more so after I won the Lok Sabha polls from here. It is sad to see how the TMC leaders put politics over development,” Supriyo told The Indian Express.
He alleged that the Asansol civic body was ill-organised and riddled with corruption. “I have tried to work here but the Trinamool Congress leaders and councillors don’t believe in working in tandem with the party (BJP), which believes in development. As a (Union) Minister, I can bring in funds from the Centre for developmental work but ultimately it will depend upon the councillors how they utilise it for the betterment of this place. If we have more BJP councillors, at least we can ensure that the fund, which the Centre provides will be utilised to the fullest,” Suprio said.
Exuding confidence, he further said: “Going by the kind of response I got during the campaign, I am sure that even the TMC cadres would vote for bringing about a change, such has been the disappointment within the ruling party”.
Trinamool, on the other hand, too, has tried not to leave anything to chance. Almost all the the prominent cabinet ministers campaigned in Asansol.
While political analysts describe it as a desperate measure by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, state labour minister and MLA from Asansol, Moloy Ghatak asked, “What is the problem if they (the minsters) are here?”
He said the the ministers were not available during the general election but now that “there is an opportunity, we have brought them here” for campaigning.
“We are confident we will win 70-80 seats out of the 106 and form the board. We have highlighted the developmental work done by the TMC government in the last four years,” Ghatak said, adding “I don’t see any Opposition party making any mark here”.
Referring to the conviction of Ranigunj MLA Sohrab Ali on charges of stealing railway property, Ghatak said it would not have any impact on the polls. “I don’t think the incident has created any negative impression about the party. People are convinced that he had been framed and that a person of his stature would not do such a thing,” Ghatak added.
Left Front leaders have alleged that the TMC brought in outsiders to create trouble during the polling process.
“We have our aim cut out. We need to stop the Trinamool mafia. At the behest of the CM, many trouble mongers have been brought in from places like Birbhum and Bankura. Even today we saw bike rallies by TMC cadres, flouting poll norms. We are against shedding blood but will put up a defence if we are attacked and at the same time will ensure that people can cast their vote,” said veteran CPM leader and former Asansol MP, Bansa Gopal Chowdhury.
He claimed that people have lost faith in the Trinamool Congress and the “Modi wave” has fizzled out.
“The Left Front is winning back the confidence of the people and I am confident it will be reflected in the ballot box,” he added.
Added municipalities: Kulti, Jamuria and Raniganj
Total Voters: 80,5752
Total Wards Of Asansol Municipality Corporation: 106
Total Booths: 967
Forward Bloc: 15