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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

In prestige fight for TMC, two key leaders square off in Bidhannagar

The TMC has once again fielded state minister Sujit Bose in the constituency that he won by 6,988 votes in 2016.

Written by Sweety Kumari | Kolkata |
April 16, 2021 4:08:12 am
Trinamool Congress, Bidhannagar, West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021, elections, Sujit Bose, Sabyasachi Dutta, Bidhannagar assembly seat, india news, indian expressThe TMC has once again fielded state minister Sujit Bose against BJP’s Sabyasachi Dutta. (Express Photo by Sweety Kumari)

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) has won the high-profile Bidhannagar Assembly constituency since 2011 but a close contest appears to be on the cards this time, making a prestige fight for the ruling party.

The TMC has once again fielded state minister Sujit Bose in the constituency that he won by 6,988 votes in 2016. Despite praise from voters about the work he has done, Bose faces a tough challenge from former Bidhannagar mayor Sabyasachi Dutta, a former TMC colleague who switched over to the saffron party in 2019. In the Lok Sabha elections that year, the BJP took a lead of 6,489 votes in the Bidhannagar segment.

While some voters praise Bose for the work he has done and say that he is approachable, others point out Dutta is an equally popular figure and well-versed with municipal work.

“I don’t know about the party. I will vote for the candidate. Sujit Bose is there for everyone round the clock. We are happy with the development work of the current MLA,” says shopkeeper Biswanath Das, who is a voter in the constituency.

Lake Town resident Ananya Sinha Gupta is also happy about the work the incumbent MLA has done. “I think his contribution to the welfare of the local people here and the society is very much visible to us. He has changed the entire look of the area and is working constantly on development projects,” she adds.

However, many others feel that Dutta will do a better job. A businessman who does not wish to be named says, “A change will be welcomed. We hope Bidhannagar will walk towards becoming a smart city if he wins.”

Though most voters are upper-middle-class people — numerous NRIs, doctors, businessmen and intellectuals live in Bidhannagar — the Duttabad slum area adjacent to the EM Bypass is also significant to the fortunes of the two leaders.

Purnima Dhara, a resident of Duttabad, criticises the TMC’s mishandling of the relief operations after last year’s Cyclone Amphan. “Half my house got damaged in Amphan. They said they will give me money. I rebuilt the one-storey uncemented house but did not get any money while many who did not suffer any loss received compensation,” she says.

The BJP sounds confident about wresting the seat from the TMC, banking on Sabyasachi Dutta’s popularity. Asked about his plans if he is elected, the former mayor tells The Indian Express, “The double-engine government will speed up development projects and ensure better work in the area. I will ensure that wards in South Dum Dum get pure drinking water, even gated societies are using water that we won’t use even in bathrooms. That is a big issue in the area. The Jessore Road underpass has drainage problems and waterlogging is also a common problem there. Also, I have a master plan to improve the standard of living in the Duttabad slum area of this constituency. It will be a full-proof plan. To date, I haven’t lost an election.”

Crucial to the BJP’s chances of winning this prestige fight is the turnout, which may be affected by the resurgence of Covid-19 cases. Though Dutta reportedly enjoys massive support among native Hindi speakers in the constituency’s Salt Lake area, several such voters say they may not step out on polling day because of fears about the pandemic.

With a mantra of “my work is my power”, Sujit Bose also sounds confident of retaining the seat for the third straight term. He tells The Indian Express, “Bengal will reject the imperialist BJP, my work is my power. People know I work in a big way. I am here for people 24×7. People will vote to continue the development work.”

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