Sanyukta Morcha candidate and veteran CPI-M leader Asok Bhattacharya has focused his election campaign on Ward 24 under the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC), from where former party leader and councillor of the Ward, Shankar Ghosh, defected to the BJP less than a week ago.
Bhattacharya, who is contesting from the Siliguri Assembly constituency, chose the Ward today for his door-to-door campaign for the first time following the defection. The BJP later today picked Ghosh as its candidate for the elections for the Siliguri seat.
However, local people today did not raise the issue when Bhattacharya met them. They instead told Bhattacharya of water-logging problems they face during the monsoons.
During an hour-long outreach campaign, Bhattacharya visited many families and interacted with them at Prantik Pally, almost at the same time Ghosh was holding another public relation exercise of the BJP ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ in Ward 30.
“I am getting good responses from the people. They said they are with us,” said Bhattacharya, the outgoing MLA from Siliguri.
A housewife, Ruma Mondal, told Bhattacharya that the MLA had visited the area in view of the elections. “You came here today as the election is approaching,” Mondal, in her mid-20s, told him, while shaking hands with him.
A trusted lieutenant of Bhattacharya and a young leader, Ghosh joined the BJP on 12 March.
Young Left leaders, on the other hand, said they are putting in all efforts to pull maximum votes from the ward in their favour.
“All the 33 wards under the Siliguri Assembly constituency are equally important to the party. But following the defection of Shankar Ghosh to the BJP, we have focused on his ward to draw maximum votes. He has compromised with our ideology, while prioritising self-interest. We are interacting especially with former DYFI and SFI leaders and activists who have remained inactive and who did not actively participate in the previous elections. They have not accepted such drastic ideological shift and have talked in one voice about laying more emphasis on party activities. We would respect him, but there will be no compromise on the principles,” said a DYFI leader.
Bhattacharya said people did not like such a person who would surrender his ideology. “During my visit today, no one mentioned his name. The chapter is closed. People do not like such a person,” he said, adding that he was hopeful of winning the seat comfortably.
Meanwhile, Ghosh said it was natural that every candidate would speak about their victory. “But the BJP will form the government in the state,” he said.