The Trinamool Congress hopes to sail smoothly in Chowringhee assembly seat in central Kolkata — the constituency which, along with Basirhat South, votes in the bypoll on Saturday. The ruling party has fielded Nayana Bandyopadhyay, actor and wife of TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, from the seat.
Sudip’s victory from Kolkata (north) — of which Chowringhee is an assembly segment — with a margin of 1 lakh votes in the Lok Sabha elections three months ago is seen as the factor behind Nayana’s selection as the candidate.
Significantly, though, Chowringhee was among the two (the other being Jorasanko) in the seven assembly segments under Kolkata (north) that Sudip had trailed in, in the LS polls.
With Chowringhee’s electorate being largely urban, political observers feel the multi-crore Saradha scam could essay a role in the bypoll. The opposition parties, too, realise this and have therefore taken it up as one of the main election issues here but not in Basirhat.
For BJP, and its candidate Ritesh Tiwari, the Kolkata (north) constituency’s predominantly trading community (mostly in Burrabazar, Jorasanko and Bowbazar assembly segments) is where the chances reside as the party holds a significant influence over it.
The other two opposition parties — CPM and Congress — have fielded Faiz Ahmed Khan and Santosh Pathak, respectively. While the Urdu-speaking Khan holds clout in the CPM’s minority cell, Pathak, a councilor, is said to have a considerable support base in certain pockets in the city. And so while the contest in Basirhat South is largely between TMC and BJP, wide-open Chowringhee is heading towards a four-cornered battle.
Looking at the 2014 Lok Sabha election results, TMC poses a promise. Of the total 11 wards, the ruling party had led (in number of votes polled) on five wards, followed by Congress’s and BJP’s lead on three with CPM continuing its poor performance from elsewhere. Significantly, ward 62, where CPM’s headquarters is located (in Alimuddin street), gave lead to the Congress, which polled 10,300 votes as against CPM’s 1,200. TMC got 6,660 while BJP could only get 611 votes.
Elsewhere, Congress led in ward 44 and 46, and BJP in ward 45 whose councilor is Congress’s Santosh Pathak. All these three come under Bowbazar area where Congress leader Somen Mitra (also its LS candidate) enjoys a strong support base.
Apparently, TMC leaders consider Chowringhee as a “safe” seat, conveniently sidestepping the party’s desperation which was on display twice, most recently on Thursday when its workers attacked BJP’s Tiwari while the latter was campaigning in the area.
Incidentally, the area is among those identified by the election officials as “sensitive”, with central forces having been deployed for the bypoll Saturday.