'Khela Hobe' pitch again as Didi readies for Bhowanipore by-election battle

Express News Service

KOLKATA:  Barely four months after the close of a high-decibel Assembly election, the heat is rising once again in West Bengal politics as the date for the by-election in Bhowanipore constituency approaches.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who lost to BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari in Nandigram Assembly constituency, will contest the by-election from the Bhowanipore seat vacated by Sovandeb Chattopadhyay. 

The slogan Khela Hobe (there will be a game)—coined by Mamata ahead of the Assembly polls—has resurfaced in the south Kolkata constituency through graffitis.

Trinamool Congress Minister Firhad Hakim and MLA Madan Mitra took to the streets to paint the walls in support of their party leader.

The by-election is said to be crucial for Mamata, who has to get elected as an MLA by November 5 to continue as the chife minister.

“My leader Smt @MamataOficial has been the MLA of Bhawanipur twice earlier. This time she is again going to be the MLA of this area! In the excitement of the run up to the elections, we stepped out on the streets painting walls in our locality to show our support. #AbarKhelaHobe,’’ Hakim tweeted.

The chief minister is taking the electoral battle seriously and has cancelled her visit to north Bengal soon after the by-election date was announced on Saturday.

Mamata was elected twice in 2011 and 2016 from Bhowanipore. However, in 2021, she decided to take on her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari, who defected to the BJP in Nandigram.

Though Nandigram, in East Midnapore district, is a stronghold of the TMC, Mamata lost by 1,737 votes, because of Adhikari family’s sway in the district.   

The BJP has promised to give Mamata a tough fight in Bhowanipur, which has 20 per cent non-Bengal voters, whom the saffron camp considers its vote-bank.

However, the TMC effused confidence, banking on its consolidation of Bengali-speaking voters.     

Giant hoardings and posters carrying Mamata’s photograph have already been put up across the constituency.

“Wining will not at all be tough for the CM. Women electorates will extend their support as they did in the Assembly elections and Bengali voters have already rejected the BJP.” 

The BJP, Congress, and CPI(M)-led Left Front are yet to announce candidates. The bypoll will be held on September 30 along with the elections to two seats in Murshidabad.