As the campaigning for the third phase of Lok Sabha elections came to an end, the BJP appeared confident to end late Congress leader Ghani Khan Choudhury’s dynasty politics in Malda.
“Former Union Minister and Congress leader A B A Ghani Khan Chowdhury’s family has sent MPs in the Parliament since 1980. This time three of his family members are contesting the polls. They have done nothing for this district and people have finally realised that. The myth surrounding this family has been busted and the BJP is confident to end the dynasty politics of Congress in Malda,” said Khagen Murmu, the BJP candidate from Malda North constituency.
Murmu, who joined BJP from CPM last month, was once a tribal face of the Left party. “In minority dominated areas, Muslim voters have come forward and shook hands with me. I maintain a close relationship with them. If we get their support, there are high chances of us winning both seats in Malda district,” he added.
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According to him, the TMC made a mistake by fielding a family member of Ghani Khan Choudhury – former Congress MP Mausam Noor. “Both TMC and Congress believe in dynasty politics. Have you ever seen a family member of Narendra Modi in politics? It is because our party do not believe in such culture,” Murmu said.
The BJP also has its fears. Party’s Malda district president Sanjit Mishra alleged that the TMC has already started threatening Muslim voters in Malda to prevent them from voting for BJP.
“The TMC has got scared to see BJP receiving the support of the minority voters. They have devised a mechanism to stop them from voting for us. In Muslim dominated areas, the TMC workers are threatening such voters and in Hindu-dominated areas they are pitting both communities against each other so that our Hindu voters are scared to come out of their house. If free and fair election is held, BJP has a strong chance of winning Malda North seat,” said Sinha.
Malda district has 51.27 per cent Muslim population. In last year’s panchayat polls, which was marred by unprecedented violence, the BJP bagged six of the 38 seats in the Malda Zilla Parishad.
Besides Mausam Noor, Choudhury’s brother Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury and Abu Hasem’s son Isha Khan Choudhury are contesting the polls this time. Isha is contesting the election against his cousin Mausam from Malda North and Abu Hasem Khan is seeking re-election from Malda South.
The Congress appeared unfazed by BJP’s confidence in Malda and claimed that people still have faith in the legacy of Ghani Khan. “There were some opportunists (Mausam) who have defected to TMC. But the people of Malda are with us. They can very well distinguish the true mass leaders who have represented them over three decades. In some pockets, the BJP has gained grounds but overall the popularity of Ghani Khan Choudhury’s family is still unmatched,” said Malda district Congress leader Rabiul Islam.
The TMC, which has never won a seat from Malda district, is betting big on the division of Muslim votes. “The people have started saying that they want a change this time. They have put their faith on TMC after witnessing the development carried out by Mamata Banerjee government. If we get the support of the Muslim voters, we will wrest both Malda seats from Congress this time,” said senior TMC leader and party’s Malda district in-charge Suvendu Adhikari. Malda North and Malda South will go to polls on Tuesday.