April 17, 2021 4:35:08 am
In the North 24 Parganas constituency of Rajarhat-Gopalpur, which goes to the polls on Saturday, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has fielded famous kirtan singer Aditi Munshi against state BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya in a bid to counter any anti-incumbency sentiment that may have developed in the past five years when the seat was represented by state Cabinet minister Purnendu Basu.
Voters say that despite developing massively over the past several years waterlogging due to lack of proper drainage facilities remains a major concern in the area, which is crucial since the arterial VIP Road that connects Kolkata to the city airport passes through it.
“Waterlogging is a big issue here. Even moderate to low rain turns several low-lying areas into mini pools. Whoever comes must work on it. Secondly, several underpasses were constructed but they should ensure they are maintained. Also, this place is full of residential areas, so local MLAs must ensure that not too many bars get permission to operate from the area. Several bars have mushroomed in the last few years,” says Naina Kumari, who lives in Raghunathpur along VIP Road.
Though Munshi is new to electoral politics, she belongs to a family with a political pedigree. Her husband Debraj Chakraborty is a councillor in the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation, and years ago was Purnendu Basu’s assistant.
“Aditi is young, soft-spoken. She is the wife of councillor Debraj, another popular man from the area. In the last few years, her party has done a lot of work. A bridge was constructed, the service road and subways in Teghoria have been a great relief from a lot of traffic issues. Because her party is working constantly, I think there is no need for change,” says Sreeja Guha, a voter.
Asked about her political inexperience, Munshi tells The Indian Express, “I may be new to politics but I know the pulse of the people of this constituency. I was born and brought up here. I have seen my husband working for people. My father-in-law was also a politician. So, my only intention is to work and serve people round the clock.”
For Samik Bhattacharya, this is a chance for redemption after this 53,002-margin loss to TMC MP Saugata Roy in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from the Dum Dum constituency, of which the Rajarhat-Gopalpur segment is a part. Areas such as Baguiati, Keshtopur, Kaikhali, and Jyangra fall under this segment.
The objective before the BJP candidate, who had won the Basirhat Dakshin seat in a 2014 by-poll, is overturning Purnendu Basu’s victory margin of 6,874 votes in the last election. He is confident of flipping the seat, and is banking on support from native Hindi speakers in the region.
“We don’t want any more fights over Hindi speakers and Bengalis, something that Didi [TMC chief Mamata Banerjee] has created. I think the BJP should get a chance. Let’s see what Modi-ji does for Bengal. I have high hopes that he will bring more employment opportunities in the state,” says VIP Road resident Shalini Sheth.
Bhattacharya says, “A large part of the constituency is suffering from a severe drainage problem. A double-engine government with the BJP both in the state and the Centre can solve the issue. There is a Modi wave as well. Along with this seat, we will win 200 seats in Bengal and form the government.”
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