Both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress are set to demonstrate their presence as a political force to be reckoned with in Murshidabad, home turf of the state Congress president, Adhir Chowdhury.
If a peaceful election with high voters’ turnout takes place, it is apparently going to be a level playing field for most of the political parties. It was alleged that the electors’ right to vote was robbed due to massive violence and uncontested wins were recirded in the last Panchayat elections in 2018. But to speak of the polling of 26 April in nine Assembly seats of Murshidabad, it was a rare edition of free polls in recent memory of. The Election Commission’s endeavor, according to political parties here, is likely to restore the right to vote and their confidence in the mechanism like the security forces.
As the Assembly polls in Bengal move into the last phase, 11 seats including all the 7 Assembly segments (Burwan, Kandi, Bharatpur, Rejinagar, Beldanga, Baharampur, Nowda) of Behrampore Lok Sabha constituency held by Chowdhury, are going to polls on 29 April. Polls of four more Assembly seats Khargram, Hariharpa, Domkal and Jalangi-would also be held on 29 April in Murshidabad, the district where Muslims account for at least 70 per cent of the total electors.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his scheduled election campaign at Behrampore stadium last week as the Covid situation worsened in the district. Two poll contestants died of Covid while important functionaries like the SP, Jangipur, Y. Raghubonshi, Chowdhury and a number of health staff have been quarantined after they tested Covid positive.
Apparently with an eye on minority votes, the TMC president, Mamata Banerjee and her party’s youth wing chief, Abhishek Banerjee addressed several rallies in Murshidabad. The TMC had no MP in Murshidabad till 2019 when the party made its debut winning two Lok Sabha seats-Murshidabad held by Abu Taher Khan and Jangipur by Khalilur Rahaman, a tobacco baron. Though Chowdhury retained his Behrampore seat by defeating the TMC candidate, Apurba Sarkar by a margin of around 80,000 votes in 2019, the Congress contestant trailed TMC in all four segments-Barwan, Bharatpur, Rejinagar and Nowda-of Behrampore Lok Sabha seat but the lead from the rest three Assembly segments with municipal towns-Behrampore, Beldanga and Kandi-enabled Chowdhury to win the seat.
The BJP, it seems, got some foothold in the district by way of polarisation and the possible split of Muslim votes between the TMC and the Sanjukta Morcha. The BJP leaders here claimed that their contestants do have an edge over the TMC and Morcha candidates in the seats like Behrampore, Burwan, Bharatpur and Kandi where polls will be held on 29 April. “We shall also win Nabagram, Murshidabad and Suti (where polls were held on 26 April) constituencies”, said Laltu Das, a BJP leader here.