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Bengal BJP hopes to derive mileage from Bangladesh violence in bypolls

In the three bypolls held on September 30, the TMC won all. Five MLAs of the BJP have also switched over to the TMC camp in the past five months.   | Photo Credit: -

The West Bengal unit of the BJP expects that the recent communal violence in Bangladesh will have an impact on bypolls to four Assembly seats scheduled on October 30. Over the past few weeks, the State BJP leadership has repeatedly raised the issue during campaign in the Shantipur, Dinhata, Khardah and Gosaba constituencies. While the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has accused the BJP of trying to polarise the voters, a section of political observers feels it will not have any impact on these polls.

Leader of the Opposition and BJP MLA from Nandigram Suvendu Adhikari was among the the first to rake up the issue and link it to the election outcome. Questioning the alleged silence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, he said “Sanatani Hindus” would express their disapproval by voting against the ruling party. State BJP president Sukanata Majundar has stated the BJP would not allow “ West Bengal to turn into Bangladesh”.

Ms. Banerjee has stayed away from campaigning in the four constituencies, leaving the work to party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee. He has severely criticised the BJP “for trying to polarise the electorate”. He countered the BJP’s charge of “ alleged silence” of Ms. Banerjee by asking why has Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made trips to Bangladesh during the State polls, maintained a silence on the issue.

Shantipur and Dinhata are located close to the international border and the BJP leadership is hoping to derive mileage from the communal unrest across the border.

‘No major impact’

Though both the BJP and the TMC have sparred on the issue of violence in the neighbouring country, a section of political observers feels it will not have any impact on the coming bypolls. “It is true that people across sections of society participated in the rallies in West Bengal to protest against violence in Bangladesh but the phenomenon is not likely to have any major impact on the coming polls, which will be fought on local issues ,” political observer and psephologist Biswanath Chakraborty said.

These polls will also be a litmus test for the Opposition parties, particularly the BJP that suffered setbacks in this year Assembly polls. With 213 seats in its bag, the second round of bypolls will not have much political significance for the TMC. But for the BJP, it will be a chance to get back some political ground. In the September 30 bypolls, the TMC won all the three constituencies, including Bhabanipur, whicht was bagged by Ms. Banerjee. Other than these electoral victories, five elected representatives of the BJP have switched over to the TMC in the past five months.

Of the four seats going to the polls, Shantipur in Nadia and Dinhata in Coochbehar were won by the BJP in the last polls. Nisith Pramanik, BJP MP from Coocbehar won Dinhata by a margin of just 57 votes and MP Jagannath Sarkar won Santipur by a margin of 15,878 votes. However, both did not take oath as MLAs as directed by the party leadership.

The other two constituencies- Gosaba and Khardah- are again going to the polls owing to the death of winning TMC candidates. Both Kajal Sinha, who won the Khardah seat with a margin of 28,140 votes and Jayanta Naskar, who won Gosaba with a margin of 23,709 votes, died due to COVID-19 related complications.

An opportunity for BJP

For the BJP leadership that also appears to be a divided house on various issues, the coming polls provide an opportunity to present a united front. Its newly-elected State president, Sukanta Majumdar, has tried to accommodate leaders of all stature giving them different opportunities.

The TMC has fielded Agriculture Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay from Khardah in North 24 Parganas. He resigned from Bhabanipur, from where he won in the latest Assembly polls, to make way for Ms. Banerjee. Another veteran leader, Udayan Guha, is contesting from Dinhata on the TMC ticket. Its other two candidates are Brajakishore Goswami from Shantipur and Subrata Mondal from Gosaba.

The BJP has put its faith in its committed cadres and fielded Ashok Mandal from Dinhata, Joy Saha from Khardah, Palash Raha from Gosaba and Niranjan Biswas from Shantipur. The Congress has fielded a candidate from Shantipur and Communist Party of India (Marxist) from Khardah.

The counting of votes will be held on November 2.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 11:07:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/west-bengal-bypolls-present-an-opportunity-for-bjp-to-arrest-its-decline/article37214511.ece

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