New Delhi/Kolkata: Can unthinkable happen? Will BJP manage to wrest a seat in poll-bound West Bengal, which has been a CPI-M stronghold from 1967.
The seat in talk is Jadavpur assembly constituency.
This high-profile seat in south Kolkata is now all set for a keen contest.
The saffron party has fielded Rinku Naskar, a former Marxist leader herself. She is locked in a triangular contest against Sujan Chakraborty of CPI-M and Moloy Majumder of Trinamool Congress.
The sitting MLA is CPI-M leader Sujan Chakraborty. Jadavpur has been a CPI-M seat since 1967.
CPI-M veteran Bikesh Chandra Majumdar had won the seat in 1967 and subsequently it had passed on to Asok Mitra for a brief period.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya represented the seat consecutively five terms – – 1987, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006.
However, in 2011, former Chief Minister Buddhadeb lost the seat to Trinamool nominee Manish Gupta, who had served as the Chief Secretary under Buddhadeb.
The CPI-M nevertheless managed to win back the seat five years later in 2016 with Sujan Chakraborty polling 98,977 votes against 84,035 by Manish Gupta.
In 2016 assembly polls, BJP candidate Dr Mohit Kumar Ray had polled just 5.4 per cent votes – 13,922.
But BJP fielding Rinku Naskar has made the battle exciting in 2021.
She was CPI-M candidate for Lok Sabha poll from Mathurapur in 2014 and had polled 489,325 votes. The parliamentary poll was won by Trinamool nominee Chowdhury Mohan Jatua.
Ms Naskar is an MA in Bengali from Rabindra Bharati University, Dipolma in Mass Communication from Jadavpur University in 2006-07, BA in Bengali from Calcutta University in 2002-03.
A former CPI-M councillor, Rinku joined BJP in November 2020. Her husband Manas Banerjee is already a BJP member.
Rinku’s decision to quit CPI(M) was largely due to the communication gap between elderly Marxists and the younger generation.
There has been an overwhelming shifting of allegiance of Left workers and supporters to the BJP over the years.
In Siliguri, defection of Shankar Ghosh, a former CPI-M leader, is another crucial development.
Ghosh, said to be a protege of veteran Marxist from Siliguri Asok Bhattacharya, now could get a BJP ticket from either Siliguri or Dabgram-Fulbari constituency.
Ghosh is expected to take away a sizable vote from the CPI-M camp and would ultimately make the battle in north Bengal interesting.
Trinamool Congress has already fielded Omprakash Mishra, a former Congressman, from Siliguri provoking protest and resignation from the party.
Political observers say the BJP’s growth graph in West Bengal came in two phases – 2014 and 2019.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the first round of ‘pro-Modi wave’ and slogan of ‘Acchey Din’ helped BJP increase its vote share at the cost of the communists.