2nd Phase Polls: Nandigram yes but there is another seat which could test Election Commission

31st March 2021

31st March 2021

30 more assembly seats of West Bengal would go on poll on April 1 in the second phase. Apart from Mamata Banerjee vs Suvendu Adhikari duel in Nandigram of Purba Medinipur, 8 more seats of the same district, 9 of Pashchim Medinipur, 8 of Bankura and 4 of South 24 Parganas would also roll the dice, concluding election in both Medinipurs and Bankura districts. As people wonder on probable outcome of second phase, it’s logical to apprehend ruckus if not violence. Nandigram of course is Battle of the Titans, but Keshpur of Paschim Medinipur would be no less intriguing.

Keshpur of Pashchim Medinipur has all through been a constituency that flexes muscles for the ruling party till they change their allegiance after the power-fulcrum shifts side. In reality, Keshpur is a place where people follow their leaders. Keshpur (and Medinipur in general) have hierarchy of leaders each of whom have blocks of dedicated followers who vote for whosoever their leader asks them to.  

Can this statement be corroborated with Mamata Banerjee’s leaked phone call to Nandigram’s local leader Proloy Pal requesting him to help her win Nandigram? This is because Proloy Pal is also one in the hierarchy having his block of followers who’d follow Proloy’s instructions. Anyone who challenges ruling party’s domination in Keshpur generally dies and people of Keshpur take such deaths in stride. That is why Keshpur battles remain cut-throat, often literally. In 2016 assembly and in 2019 Loksabha, 71% and 69% (approx) of cast votes of Keshpur went in favour of Trinamool Congress. It’s an SC assembly seat, currently represented by Seuli Saha of TMC who’d be challenged by BJP’s Pritish Ranjan Kuar. If everything goes as per pattern, TMC would win Keshpur. So, apart from Nandigram, all eyes would be on symbolic Keshpur too on Thursday.

While Amit Shah praised Election Commission for holding killing-free 1st phase, the Constitutional body is expected to face much harder hurdles in the 2nd phase. EC may hope for the best but needs to prepare for the worst. 

Not only dreadful Keshpur, poll would also begin in the most dangerous district of West Bengal. South 24 Parganas is known to be a goons’ den who were earlier affiliated to CPM and now TMC.

Assembly-wise Observations 

BJP grew silently but steadily in all assemblies of Purba and Pashchim Medinipur since 2016 predominantly snatching CPM’s vote-share. While in all other assemblies of Purba Medinipur BJP surged as a close second after TMC,  in 2019, it was first in Panshkura Paschim kshetra. Moreover, all assemblies of Purba Medinipur except Egra and Panshkura Paschim come under Kanthi and Tamluk Loksabha kendra represented by Sisir and Dibyendu Adhikari who are now with BJP. 

Haldia: The only urban-population dominated assembly constituency of Purba Medinipur was represented by CPM's Tapasi Mondal who has now joined BJP. Haldia voters drastically shifted from CPM to TMC to BJP during 2019 Loksabha polls. The same Tapasi Mondal is representing BJP in Haldia this time. Haldia Petroleum Refinery and related fields have enormous potential with respect to petroleum works at Ashoknagar, Uttar 24 Parganas. PM Modi inaugurated Rs 4,700 Crores project in Haldia early February this year.

BJP has chosen a local candidate, Pulak Kanti Guriya, for Chandipur. This well-known tourism centre of Purba Medinipur has issues of narrow roads and many other corresponding public inconveniences which Guriya is harping on in his campaign. On the other hand, TMC has fielded film actor Soham Chakraborty. Though Chandipur is a rural constituency, would the voters thereof be enchanted by a filmstar or a son of the soil?

Kharagpur Sadar is a BJP-minded 100% urban-population dominated assembly of Pashchim Medinipur, represented by West Bengal BJP’s state president Dilip Ghosh.

Reading of available collected data suggests all Pashchim Medinipur assemblies except Sabang, Ghatal and Keshpur and all assemblies of Bankura might decisively vote for BJP this year. However, Debra would observe neck-and-neck fight between two ex-IPS officers, namely Bharati Ghosh of BJP and Humayun Kabir of TMC. Amit Shah’s roadshow at Pashchim Medinipur’s Debra and Purba Medinipur’s Nandigram and Panshkura Paschim on Tuesday is expected to raise BJP’s vote score. 

Ghatal’s MP Dipak Adhikari Dev is popular and has good public-connect. However, in spite of remaining Ghatal’s MP for two consecutive terms, he couldn’t effectively liaison with GOI to get Master Plan materialized to solve Ghatal’s devastating annual flood issue. Would Ghatal’s electorates vote for BJP this time as a pressurizing strategy to have Ghatal Master Plan implemented? Time would tell.

To conduct free and fair poll in Gosaba, Kakdwip, Patharpratima and Sagar assemblies, EC is taking significant additional measures e.g allotting higher number of CAPF personnel in second phase; allowing Jawans to fire in self-defence and issue order to vacate all lodges, hotels, marriage halls etc of corresponding areas . All 4 seats of South 24 Parganas are either on WB-Bangladesh border or near-border. infiltration-infested, extremely poor rural population who suffered utmost misery when Cyclone Amphan levelled their minimal establishments to ground. 

Fiasco began thereafter when TMC men were allegedly involved in massive defalcation of Amphan Relief Fund. Innumerable ultra-poor people of the area who’re mainly TMC voters didn’t get even the minimal support items like bamboos, tarpaulin clothes etc. for re-erecting their smashed huts. Post-cyclone electricity-restoration took more than a month in these areas. Allegations came in about methodically organized loot of Amphan Relief Fund. 

Amit Shah, in his Gosaba rally on March 23 had declared massive road and bridge infra-development projects in the southern islands, an AIIMS in Sunderbans delivering standard health facilities for locals, world-class tourism Infra in Sunderbans, Development of Gangasagar Tirtha kshetra and pure potable drinking water pipeline in every household within 2 years of govt formation. He also assured probe of cyclone-fund defalcations which got highly applauded by people. EVMs of 4 border-adjacent southern assemblies are expected to absorb people’s Amphan-grievance. Different other alleged corruptions like those in PDS food grains and Covid-death-handling atrocities too are supposed to affect TMC’s vote score, claim sources.  

These 4 assemblies are SC, ST dominated and rural where real voters often are not able to cast their votes. BJP has allocated separate funds for the area’s Dalit children’s education and development. However, since South 24 Parganas is the fortress of TMC-terror, EC would have to ensure safety, security of common voters not only on poll day but also on preceding days and thereafter. Wings of booth-jammers would require to be clipped, borders protected and bomb-storehouses neutralized.

2nd Phase at a glance

Election Date

Constituency No.

Constituency Name 

District

01.04.2021

 

30 Assemblies

211

Chandipur 

Purba Medinipur

 

9 Assemblies out of 16 Total

 

Purba Medinipur Election Over

210

Nandigram

209

Haldia

208

Mahishadal

207

Nandakumar

206

Moyna

205

Panskura Pashchim

204

Panskura Purba

203

Tamluk 

224

Kharagpur Sadar

Pashchim Medinipur

 

9 Assemblies out of 15 Total

 

Pashchim Medinipur Election Over

225

Narayangarh 

226

Sabang

227

Pingla

229

Debra

230

Daspur 

231

Ghatal 

232

Chandrakona 

235

Keshpur 

251

Taldangra

Bankura

 

8 Assemblies out of 12 Total

 

Bankura Election Over

252

Bankura

253

Barjora

254

Onda

255

Bishnupur

256

Kotulpur

257

Indas 

258

Sonamukhi 

127

Gosaba 

South 24 Parganas

4 Assemblies out of 31 Total

130

Patharpratima

131

Kakdwip 

132

Sagar 

 

 

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