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In Bangla border seat, TMC plays anti-NRC card to checkmate BJP

Traditionally, Kaliaganj — which falls under former Union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s home turf Raiganj — had been a Congress stronghold.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: November 24, 2019 4:18:54 am
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Kaliaganj Assembly seat in West Bengal’s border district of Uttar Dinajpur is expecting to see a three-corner contest among the BJP, Left-Congress combine and ruling TMC as it goes to bypoll on Monday.

The Kaliaganj Assembly seat fell vacant following the death of sitting MLA and popular Congress leader Pramatha Nath Roy earlier this year.

Traditionally, Kaliaganj — which falls under former Union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s home turf Raiganj — had been a Congress stronghold. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP candidate Debasree Chaudhuri won the Parliamentary seat.

Meanwhile, the TMC is banking on the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC), which reportedly created a panic-like situation in the state recently.

In the 2016 Assembly polls, the Congress had entered into an electoral understanding with the Left Front and won the Kaliaganj seat after getting over 1.12 lakh votes, which was 52.58 per cent of the total vote share.

As per the 2019 Lok Sabha poll trends, the BJP received over 1.18 lakh votes from Kaliaganj, while the Congress, which contested alone, noted a sharp decline to only about 18,000 votes.

Following its poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has once again joined hands with the Left. As per the electoral understanding, the Left Front has extended its support to the Congress candidate.

The Congress has put Roy’s daughter Dhitasree in the fray, banking on the veteran leader’s legacy to retain the seat.

“People have started realising that they have made a mistake by giving so much vote to the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. During campaigning, we have received a good response from the people and are hopeful that we will receive a positive result from them. The support from the Left Front has come as a boost for us as it had helped us win this seat in 2016,” said Roy.

Meanwhile, buoyed by its success in the Lok Sabha polls and especially after winning the Raiganj seat, the BJP is making all out efforts to wrest this seat from the Congress.

However, as Kaliaganj is located near Indo-Bangla border, the issue of NRC has come to haunt the party. However, the party is banking on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as Kaliaganj has 70 per cent Hindu population.

Meanwhile, the TMC, which never won the Kaliaganj seat, is using the NRC issue to reach out to the people.

Kaliaganj to vote along with two other seats in the bypoll on November 25. The votes will be counted on November 28.

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