Infighting and deserters are keeping the Trinamool Congress edgy in the sixth phase of elections to be held in 43 constituencies on Thursday (April 22) amidst tight security.
In the 2016 assembly elections, the TMC had bagged 32 of these 43 seats. The Congress had got seven seats and the Left Front had won four. The BJP had drawn a blank.
The scenario changed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The TMC was ahead in 24 of these assembly segments, and the BJP in 19. The BJP’s vote share jumped from 10.74 per cent in 2016 to 40.85 per cent in 2019 in these constituencies spread across both north and south Bengal. The TMC’s vote share marginally dropped from 44.89 per cent in 2016 to 42.58 per cent in 2019.
As many of these constituencies in Uttar Dinajpur, Nadia and 24 North Parganas are along Bangladesh border, the alleged influx of illegal migrants from across the border and granting citizenship to the Hindu migrants through the new Citizenship Act were the crux of the BJP’s campaign theme.
The TMC banked mainly on Mamata Banerjee government’s slew of welfare and populist schemes like Swasthya Sathi that provides health insurance benefit of ₹5 lakh per family; Sabooj Sathi that provides bicycles to students of class 9 to 12 to increase school enrolment, Kanyashree under which scholarship is provided for secondary education or vocational or sports training to girls to prevent and discourage their early marriages among others.
The Centre’s failure to implement the CAA even two years after its enactment was also used by the TMC against the BJP in a bid to regain its support base in the constituencies it lost to the BJP in 2019.
“The BJP misled the people with false promises in 2019. But now people have realised their mistake. Not a single promise made to the people, including the implementation of the CAA, has been fulfilled,” said TMC refugee cell leader Mukul Chandra Bairagya.
The party, however, seems to be squandering the advantage due to infightings.
In Mangalkot, the TMC this time gave ticket to Apurba Choudhury replacing Siddiqullah Chowdhury, a prominent minority leader, due to infighting. But the change apparently failed to unite the squabbling party factions.
In Galsi, many TMC grassroots leaders are allegedly moonlighting for the BJP and are keeping close touch with Sunil Kumar Mondal, the party MP who joined the BJP in December last year.
There are again resentments within the party against Abdul Karim Chowdhury, the party’s Islampur candidate.
In Goalpokhar, TMC candidate Ghulam Rabbani is pitted against his brother Ghulam Sarwar of the BJP. Rabbani’s campaign also suffered after he was tested COVID positive.
Internal feuds can also upset the TMC’s apple cart in Chakulia, Karandighi, Hemtabad, Raiganj, Chopra and a few more seats.
In a few other seats, the party organisation has been weakened due to desertion of leaders. Itahar MLA Amal Achariya, Bangaon Uttar MLA Biswajit Das and Noapara MLA Sunil Singh joined the BJP ahead of elections.
Also read: The pan India climax to BJP’s Bengal story
Besides, TMC turncoats Mukul Roy from Krishnanagar Uttar, Shilbhadra Dutta from Khardaha and Subhranshu Roy (Mukul’s son) from Bijpur are also in the fray.
The BJP is also not totally free of rebellion. In Kaliaganj, Raiganj, Bagdah, Swarupnagar, Bhatpara, Jagatdal, Chakulia, Islampur and in some other seats, there are visible discontentment among candidates.
The Left Front and the Congress hope to get advantage, at least in a few seats, of the internal feuds in the TMC and the BJP.
The Election Commission has decided to deploy 779 companies of security forces for this phase of elections.