Besides the political violence in West Bengal during the Lok Sabha elections, what made news was the campaigning by two Bangladeshi actors for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in two constituencies.
Ferdous Ahmed, a very popular actor in both Bangladeshi films and Tollywood (Bengali film industry in India), was reportedly seen campaigning for TMC candidate Kanhaiyalal Agarwal in Raiganj constituency. He was accompanied by Bengali Tollywood actors Ankush and Payal.
On the other hand, Ghazi Abdun Noor, who works in Bengali TV serials, was reportedly seen campaigning for TMC’s Sougata Roy in Dum Dum – a major area in urban Kolkata.
The incidents happened in mid-April, just days before polling in Raiganj and Dum Dum.
The BJP raised the issue with the Election Commission.
The Union Home Ministry then asked Ferdous to leave the country and blacklisted him.
In a statement the Home Ministry said that it received a report from the Bureau of Immigration regarding visa violations committed by Ferdous Ahmed following which it has cancelled his business visa and issued him a leave-India notice.
Similar action was taken against Noor.
So what happened in the two constituencies?
Sougata Ray, the sitting MP from Dum Dum, retained his seat defeating Samik Bhattacharya of the BJP by a margin of 53002 votes. It is important to note the margin because in 2014, Ray had defeated his nearest rival by 154934 votes. This means that his winning margin was reduced by a massive 66 per cent or about one-third of what it was five years ago.
In Raiganj, however, the TMC was trampled under the BJP juggernaut. The saffron party’s Debasree Chaudhuri defeated Kanhaiyalal Agarwal by a margin of 60574 votes. The seat was held by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammad Salim in 2014, who had then won it by a margin of 1634 votes. In 2019, the CPI(M) was completely obliterated in the elections in Bengal.
While the BJP complained about the presence of Bangladeshi actors in campaign process, the TMC went to the ECI over wrestler The Great Khali participating in a roadshow in Jadavpur for BJP candidate Anupam Hazra.
The TMC alleged that Dalip Singh Rana aka The Great Khali holds US citizenship and the BJP was trying to influence Indian voters by using his “celebrity status”.
“A foreigner should not be allowed to influence the minds of the Indian electors as he has little or no knowledge as to who should be an appropriate MP in India,” the complaint lodged by the TMC said.
But BJP leader Mukul Roy, however, said Khali holds the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card and can work and live in India. The OCI is an immigration status permitting a foreigner of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely.
What happened in Jadavpur?
Actor-turned-politician Mimi Chakraborty defeated Hazra by a huge margin of 295239 votes. Jadavpur had voted TMC’s Sugata Bose to power in 2014. Bose was replaced by Mimi, who was contesting for the first time.