Marked by Election Commission clampdowns on campaigning to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the seventh phase of the ongoing state Assembly elections will witness a back to the wall electoral battle by Congress in parts of Malda and Murshidabad, its one-time political bastions, tomorrow.
Many migrant workers from these districts who have returned home will exercise their franchise with their choice being swayed by their takes on NRC and CAA. Political heavyweights including Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and her Cabinet colleague, Sovandeb Chattopadhaya will cast their votes at Bhowanipore Assembly segment during the day.
Another Trinamul Congress stalwart, Subrata Mukherjee will cast his vote at Ballygunge tomorrow. After Nandigram, the electoral battle at Bhowanipore Assembly constituecy will be the next litmus test of the Trinamul chief’s popularity. Miss Banerjee vacated this seat in her home turf and moved to Nandigram to take on Suvendu Adhikari amidst Opposition allegations of retreating to a rural Bengal constituency sensing a groundswell of discontent.
In this last but one phase, some heavyweight ministers are also contesting not only from South Kolkata but also from Asansol (North), and Jangipur in Murshidabad. The state panchayat and rural affairs minister Subrata Mukherjee, state power minister Shovandeb Chattopadhyay and former Mayor and state urban development minister Firad Hakim are contesting from Ballygunge, Bhowanipore and Kolkata Port respectively.
Sovandeb Chattopadhyay is contesting from Bhowanipore. Former Member -Mayorin-Council Debasish Kumar is contesting from Rash Behari. The state labour and law minister Moloy Ghatak is also in the poll fray and contesting from Asansol (North). The minister of state for labour Jakir Hossain who survived a bomb blast at the Nimtita railway platform while coming to Kolkata is also contesting in this election from Jangipur.
Elections in two seats have been postponed. Due to sudden demise of the RSP candidate for Jangipur, Pradip Nandi due to the coronavirus and the death of a Congress candidate Rizzazul Haque in Samsergunj the election was shifted to 16 May. Veteran Trinamul leaders Subrata Saha is contesting from Sagardighi, and Idris Ali from Bhagwangola and Soumik Hossain from Raninagar. Shaoni Singha Roy and Akkurzaman who defected to Trinamul Congress are contesting from Murshidabad and Raghunathgunj respectively.
In South Dinajpur,Shekhar Dasgupta, a lawyer is contesting from Balurghat seat and veteran RSP leader and former minister Biswanath Chowdhury is not contesting this time. Veteran Trinamul leader Biplab Deb is contesting from Harirampur.
While, minister Moloy Ghatak is contesting from Asansol (North), actress Shaoni Ghosh is pitted against BJP’s fashion designer Agnimitra Paul in Asansol (South). The sitting MLA of Asansol.(South) of Trinamul Congress has been shifted to Ranigunj. CPI-M nominee Oishye Ghosh who shot to fame following a fracas at Jawaharlal Nehru University campus is contesting from Jamuria. In Durgapur (East), CM’s advisor on agriculture, Pradip Majumdar is contesting against Col Dipanshu Chowdhury who defected to BJP from Trinamul and CPI-M’s youth leader Abhas Roy Chowdhury.
The former Asansol Mayor and Pandaveswar MLAJitendra Tewari who defected to BJP is contesting from Pandaveswar in BJP’s ticket In Malda six Assembly segments are going to the polls in this phase where former minister Sabitri Mitra from Manikchak and veteran Congress leader, now Trinamul candidate, Samar Mukherjee from Ratua are contesting.
The Election Commission, meanwhile, rubbished charges levelled by the Trinamul Congress chairperson and chief minister Mamata Banerjee of arresting Trinamul Congress workers on the basis of purported instructions being given by the EC observers and other EC officials as “baseless,” false”and “misleading”.
Issuing a press statement, the Election Commission today said that no workers of any political party other than the criminals are being taken into custody as part of the preventive arrests with an eye to conduct elections without fear and intimidation. No such acts of arresting Trinamul Congress workers have come to the notice of the ECI so far, the Election Commission said in a statement.