Fifth phase: BJP looks good for 29-34 seats out of 45 which go for polls on Saturday

16th April 2021

16th April 2021

Saturday, April 17. This is Bengal’s date for its 45 seats spread in its north and northeastern region as the image below illustrates. Six districts—Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Nadia, Uttar 24 Parganas and Purba Bardhaman—undergo election in the fifth of eight-phase polls. The first three districts would bring curtains on its date with polling in 2021. 

So let’s look at these three first, Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong and Darjeeling. (Look at the map below for their locations in the state of Bengal, as well as the three other districts for your understanding). In all these three districts, Bharatiya Janata Party stands on a very good footing. Together, these three districts would have their remaining 13 seats sealed in ballot boxes on Saturday. Seven of them are in Jalpaiguri, five in Darjeeling and one in Kalimpong. Though Lok Sabha polls are different from state’s, the 2019 General Polls indicate the latest mood amongst the voters. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool Congress won with a very slender margin in Rajganj constituency. The remaining 12 went to BJP.  

Interestingly, but for Nagrakata, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Kurseong, all other remaining nine constituencies all are located on the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. Naxalbari, the name which rings bell with readers across India, is near the border. This is a region which has never trusted the Trinamool Congress. It had been won over by BJP for some time now. People in Bengal’s North are not unaware that the region has enormous potential to grow in tourism, agriculture, tea-plantation, infrastructure and MSME which BJP has addressed in its Sankalp Patra, no less by the rousing speeches of its leaders. Modi’s speech in Siliguri, on April 10 for instance, has had a dizzying effect on its populace. 

In Dahgram-Fulbari of Jalpaiguri district, Trinamool Congress’ Gautam Deb had caught eye with his threatening words: “Either Vote for TMC, else go to Gujarat.” Such words sound intimidating but tend to only steel the voters’ resolves. Deb’s anxiety is understandable since no less than 63% of voters had favoured BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. 

Now let’s look at the other three districts—Nadia, Purba Bardhaman and Uttar 24 Parganas—which make up the remaining 32 of the 45 seats going to polls on Saturday. Nadia and Bardhaman, both have their remaining eight assembly seats each polled tomorrow.  The remaining 16 are in the behemoth district of Uttar 24 Parganas which contributes 33 seats in all to the Vidhan Sabha. 

Nadia. Six of its eight seats are either at the border or near it. Women in this region are likely to vote overwhelmingly for BJP since they have faced “Love Jihad” issues relentlessly due to trans-border Islamic aggression. No less a factor is the usurpation of their land due to excesses of this aggression. Modi is a big hit here. He enjoys enormous credibility. Thus these six seats—on (Krishnaganj, Ranaghat, Uttar Purba) or near (Ranaghat Uttar Paschim, Ranaghat Dakshin, Chakdaha) the border—seem ready to fall in BJP’s lap. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls are pointer too: All these seats, but for Kalyani and Haringhata, provided BJP with massive lead over Trinamool Congress. Even in Kalyani and Haringhata, BJP prevailed though the margin was no more than 3.43% and 4.72%. In Santipur, defending MLA is Congress’ Arindam Bhattacharyya who is now with BJP. 

In Bardhaman, the spoils could be spread. Bardhaman Dakshin could go for BJP as well as Jamalpur and Memari where BJP seems to have an advantage. Khandagosh looks to be Trinamool’s gain; Raina might go in favour of Left too. It’s the situation in Kalna and Manteswar, which seem interesting. The defending MLAs belong to Trinamool but have switched to BJP this time around. No less pertinent is the fact that Trinamool’s vote share in Kalna in 2019 Lok Sabha polls was dramatically lower than what it had gained in 2016 assembly polls. In Manteswar, Siddiqullah Chowdhury is allegedly a representative of sorts of radical Islamists. He was in news for allegedly stopping entry of Covid vaccine truck in Bardhaman with the help of his mob. It looks like a Trinamool’s seat to lose.

The Purba Bardhaman could be dominated by Trinamool and Left. Yet its pertinent to remember the region is called the “Rice Bowl of Bengal.” And that farmers here haven’t received PM Kisan Samman Nidhi monetary help due to chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s confrontationist stance. Last two years’ Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) thus haven’t come the farmers’ way here. BJP has promised to distribute it no sooner than they come to power. If it strikes a chord, BJP could upset its rivals’ applecart. 

This brings us to Uttar 24 Parganas and its 16 seats to be polled on Saturday. No less than seven of these 16 seats are on (HIngalganj, Basirhat Dakshin) or near (Basirhat Uttar, Sandeshkali, Minakhan, Haroa, Deganga) border with Bangladesh. They are minority-dominated, crime-prone and infiltration-infested seats and in all probability heading the Trinamool way. 

Deganga was in news in 2010 when Haji Nurul Islam had allegedly instigated the communal riots. He is again contesting for Trinamool, this time from Haroa. Sandeshkbali, likewise, observed Jihadi savagery after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Trinamool strongman Sheikh Shahjahan had allegedly orchestrated the gory murder of Pradip Mondal, Sukanta Mondal for their political allegiance to BJP. Locals reported that Shahjahan had arrived with his Rohingya-brigade to assassinate Mondals. FIR was duly lodged but it has been of little use. Several Hindu families had to leave Sandeshkali after the dreadful incident. 

Though Hingalganj has substantial Hindu population, infiltrators enter there via waterways from islands like Sahebkhali to cast false votes. BSF would require to be exceptionally pro-active to reduce permeability of these borders for fair elections.  

Sitalkuchi Coochbehar was also a constituency on border. After the pathetic incident there on April 10, additional companies of CAPF have been inducted in West Bengal by ECI including 33 additional companies of Border Security Force & 9 additional companies of Sima Suraksha Bal too. From Phase 5 onwards, BSF & SSB would have significant role in election conduction.

If infiltration be checked, musclemen curbed & voter turnout unhindered, Hingalganj, Basirhat Dakshin and Sandeshkhali may go to BJP’s fold though Sandeshkhali has already been endangered by infiltrators. Fair election in these notorious constituencies depend solely on security arrangements.

In both Haroa and Deganga,  Muslim candidates are contesting on behalf of both TMC and Abbas Siddiqui’s ISF. Speculations are on that minority votes may thus get split between them and Trinamool which could benefit BJP. But for all we know, the two BJP antagonists could join hands after the pools to keep a control on these crime-infested constituencies. 

Barasat has a fair chance to be Saffronized. Madhyamgram would perhaps see a tight contest between BJP and Trinamool, more likely in latter’s favour. BJP could win both Rajarhat Gopalpur and Bidhannagar. Rajarhat New Town could be a close affair. In Rajarhat, the sitting MLA was with Trinamool but has now shifted to BJP. He is popular here and could reap dividends for BJP. 

Dum Dum nurses an anti-incumbency sentiment against Trinamool. Bratya Basu of the party has people’s antipathy. Difference in Trinamool’s favour in 2019 was only 2.84%. Further, BJP has promised to transform Kolkata and its surroundings. Not to forget, Dum Dum always had a saffron core. It elected BJP veteran Late Tapan Sikdar as MP twice in the 90s. 

Barangar could elect Trinamool’s Tapas Roy. Kamarhati could have a three-cornered contest between Trinamool, BJP and CPI-M. Madan Mitra of Trinamool holds advantage here. 

Panihati is being contested mainly by Congress descendants. Ex-congressmen TMC’s Nantu Ghosh, BJP’s Sanmoy Bandyopadhyay and present Congress’s Tapas Mazumdar are in contest here. If BJP prevails here, the credit would go to Sanmoy who enjoys credibility. He has been tireless in exposing Trinamool’s misrule through his YouTube channel, “Banglar Barta.” He enjoys the image of a fearless journalist. 

It’s not to say that BJP has been found wanting here as a party. It performed well during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Panihati. It’s vote share was only 5.75% less than that of Trinamool. But as said, challenges for Central Armed Police Forces personnel are enormous in Panihati. Defending Trinamool MLA Nantu Ghosh is infamous for hooliganism. The challenge for forces and Election Commission (EC) is considerable. 

A maximum of 34 up to a minimum of 29 constituencies out of total 45 may go to BJP’s fold in Phase Five polls. 

Election Date

Constituency No.

Constituency Name

District 

17.04.2021

 

45 Assemblies

15

Dhupguri 

Jalpaiguri 

 

7 Assemblies

 

Election over

16

Maynaguri 

17

Jalpaiguri 

18

Rajganj 

19

Dabgram-Fulbari

20

Mal 

21

Nagrakata 

22

Kalimpong 

Kalimpong 

23

Darjeeling 

Darjeeling 

5 Assemblies

 

Election over

24

Kurseong 

25

Matigara-Naxalbari

26

Siliguri 

27

Phansidewa

86

Santipur 

Nadia 

8 Assemblies out of 17 Total

87

Ranaghat Uttar Pashchim

88

Krishnaganj 

89

Ranaghat Uttar Purba

90

Ranaghat Dakshin

91

Chakdaha

92

Kalyani 

93

Haringhata 

111

Panihati 

Uttar 24 Parganas

 

16 Assemblies out of 33 Total

112

Kamarhati 

113

Baranagar 

114

Dum Dum 

115

Rajarhat New Town

116

Bidhannagar 

117

Rajarhat Gopalpur

118

Madhyamgram 

119

Barasat 

120

Deganga 

121

Haroa 

122

Minakhan 

123

Sandeshkhali 

124

Basirhat Dakshin

125

Basirhat Uttar

126

Hingalganj 

259

Khandaghosh 

Purba Bardhaman

 

8 Assemblies out of 16 Total

260

Bardhaman Dakshin

261

Raina 

262

Jamalpur 

263

Monteswar 

264

Kalna 

265

Memari 

266

Bardhaman Uttar

 

Number of Reads: 73

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