Express News Service
KOLKATA: In the first two phases on elections in West Bengal, BJP was in comfort zone. Polls were held in places like Junglemhal and East Midnapore.
In the first, they had done well in 2019 Lok Saba elections. In the second, they have gained significantly in man power in recent times, notable being the inclusion of Suvenu Adhikari.
In the third phase on Tuesday, BJP enters a tough terrain.
The 31 constituencies of this phase are TMC’s strongholds in the districts of South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly, where the saffron camp is desperate to hoist its flag. In the 2016 Assembly elections, TMC had won 30 of these 31 seats.
Even during the saffrown wave in Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP had secured lead only in two of these seats.
“Real test of our strength in south Bengal will begin from Tuesday. In the first two phases, we enjoyed the result of our impressive performance in Junglemahal and in East Midnapore. Adhikari, Mamata Banerjee’s once-trusted aide, controls East Midnapore we rode his support base. But now, we are going for an eyeball-to-eyeball conflict in TMC’s citadel in southern Bengal districts. All 31 seats will be a challenge for our party,’’ admitted a senior BJP leader.
All seven Assembly constituencies under the Parliamentary seat of Diamond Harbour will go polls in this phase. Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is the MP from this seat.
“We lambasted the Bengal chief minister on the issue of her nephew. Our national leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, never missed the opportunity to hit out at Abhishek on the issue of corruption and siphoning off relief fund for cyclone Amphan victims. This third phase covering vast parts of the Amphan-ravaged area in South 24 Parganas is crucial. The electorates’ political alignment will reflect whether our campaign attacking Mamata on the aunt-nephew issue has worked or not,’’ he said.
In a move to counter BJP’s deployment of actor Mithun Chakrabarty in poll campaign, the TMC held a roadshow with actor turned Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachhan.
She will again be part of other roadshows in southern Bengal districts in next few days, where polls will be conducted in coming phases.
“My party leader Akhilesh Yadav asked me to come here to give my support to Trinamool Congress. I have utmost love and respect for Mamataji, a single woman fighting against all atrocities,’’ said Jaya, who is a Bengali and lived in the state before shifting to Mumbai.
TMC leaders said the presence of the actor in roadshows will not only blunt BJP’s attempt to bank on Mithun’s stardom but also secure electoral dividend in favour of the party to some extent. “No one can say we have brought an outsider. Jayaji is a daughter of Bengal,’’ said a TMC leader.