The name Bolpur Lok Sabha was synonymous with Somnath Chatterjee of the CPI-M, the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, for 15 continuous years, Chatterjee having never lost from the Bolpur seat before it became a Scheduled Caste-reserved seat.
A CPI-M stronghold in Chatterjee’s time, in these elections, however, the contest in the seat will primarily be between the Trinamul Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Incidentally, both the outgoing Bolpur MP, Anupam Hazra, and the current TMC candidate Asit Mal are political turncoats, having changed parties in the run-up to the 17th Lok Sabha polls.
While Hazra, a former VBU teacher, switched to the BJP from the Trinamul and is contesting from Jadavpur seat, the former five-times Congress MLA from Hansan seat, Asit Mal has joined the Trinamul and is contesting on a twin flower ticket.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls Anupam Hazra (48.30 per cent) of the Trinamul Congress, defeated Dr Ram Chandra Dome of CPI-M by a margin of over 2,36,112 votes in Bolpur. In 2009, the CPI-M’s Dr Ramchandra Dome has defeated Congress’ Asit Mal by a margin of 1,26,882 votes.
This time around Dr Dome is again pitted against Asit Mal, though now Mal is a TMC candidate. Congress’ Abhijit Saha and BJP’s Ram Prosad Das are also in the fray.
But the contest will be limited between the lotus and the twin flowers, feel local people here.
From barely 70,084 votes garnered by the BJP’s Arjun Saha in 2009, in 2014 Kamini Mohan Sarkar bagged 1,97,474 votes for the lotus symbol .
Out of the seven assembly seats of Bolpur constituency, only four – Bolpur, Nanoor (SC), Labhpur and Mayureswar — fall under Birbhum district, while Ketugram, Mongolkote and Ausgram fall under Burdwan East District. The BJP is seen to be slightly ahead in Ketugram and the TMC slightly ahead in Ausgram and Mongolkote assembly segments, while local political observers claim that the most of the Left voters will switch over to the saffron party.
The BJP has also emerged silently as a force in the Labhpur, Mayurswar and Nanoor (SC) segments. The TMC’s infighting in Nanoor has been a talking point and growing sand mafia activities and bloodshed have rocked Tara Shankar Bandopadhyay’s Labhpur in the recent past. The TMC is ahead in Bolpur, but there too in the town area BJP is very strong.
The BJP candidate has hijacked the much hyped TMC slogan chup chap fule chap (but instead of twin flower, this time it will be lotus).
“People are fed up with the atrocities of the TMC and live in fear. No factories have been set up except bomb making factories in the villages and the sand banks have become killer fields. Nobody dares to talk about democracy in Bolpur openly in public places like markets, offices, and courts. But people have taken a decision and will caste their votes for restoration of peace,” claims Ram Prosad Roy.
Bolpur constituency has a minority population of about 35 per cent, but many minority voters have decided to vote for the lotus symbol in the 29 April polls. The main reason being the TMC satrap Anubrata Mondal, against whom no body dares to raise voice publicly, sources said.
In a desperate bid to further woo these minority voters, PM Narendra Modi has said that the quota for Haj pilgrimage will be further increased after his meeting with Saudi Arabia crown prince. He also said that the Arab country has announced it would release over 800 Indian prisoners before the month of Ramadan. After Narendra Modi’s rally in Illamabazar yesterday, BJP supporters hope that the polling percentage of the saffron party will be boosted by about five to seven per cent in both the two segments which will be crucial in the end.
In the three-tier panchayat polls, the TMC had won 84 per cent of seats from the district uncontested as the Opposition parties were not allowed to file nomination papers, but this time the special observer Ajay Nayek has assured central forces deployment in all the 1958 booths of Bolpur.
Whoever wins Bolpur this time, the margin will be wafer thin as this constituency is set to witness a neck and neck contest.