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Doughty BJP novice gives the jitters to Trinamool in Asansol

Doughty BJP novice gives the jitters to Trinamool in Asansol

 The Trinamool Congress’ attitude towards BJP candidate Babul Supriyo at Asansol in Burdwan district seems to indicate that he poses a major threat in the Lok Sabha elections.

The colliery township, which shares a border with Jharkhand and has an eclectic demographic mix, is becoming a nightmare for the ruling party.

The belief is getting stronger that this might be one seat the BJP will wrest from Trinamool in West Bengal.

Analysts believe that Asansol would, otherwise, have been an easy seat for the Trinamool after it fielded Dola Sen, a seasoned trade unionist, well known to the workers in the many collieries and mines.  Despite the area’s high inter-border crime rate and parallel industry in the form of illegal coal mines, Trinamool was confident when the name of Supriyo was announced.

But his first road show in the area and the response it received, however, was enough to give Trinamool leaders nightmares.

A CPM bastion since 1989, Bansa Gopal Chowdhury has been the local MP since 2005 after he won a bye-poll, beating his nearest rival from Trinamool, Malay Ghatak.

 CPM has put Chowdhury back in the fight to retain his seatbut his campaign is subdued. Indrani Mishra of the Congress too seems to have taken a back seat given Sen’s strong presence and loud campaign consisting of road shows, street corner meetings and rallies.
Supriyo, however, refuses to give up without a fight and has been rousing public support and a good response which has only encouraged him to work harder.

In his first press interview after being named the BJP candidate from Asansol, the popular Bollywood playback singer said, “Winning Asansol would not be asaan (easy) but I’ll put my heart and soul in it.”

 Wherever he goes, he is inundated with requests to sing a few lines from his hit songs and he obliges. He has promised a public performance after the polls.

“I am a novice in politics but if I am elected and Narendra Modi becomes prime minister, I will ensure Asansol grows and develops at a fast pace just like Gujarat,” he tells reporters, adding that he is not intimated by any of his opponents.

According to local CPM leaders, there are high chances that Chowdhury will win the seat, riding piggy-back on the BJP ‘wave’ cutting into Trinamool votes.

Some reports suggest that Left voters might be migrating towards the BJP and, by the time the vote is held on May 7, the CPM could have regained some political space, only to make way for the BJP.

Asansol is the only constituency where Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has held three meetings in 24 hours.

 Even though Babul was initially dismissed as a threat, Trinamool’s fears are now showing and Sen has been flooding the Election Commission’s office with complaints against Babul. Babul, however, has come out clean.

Sen also seems bogged down by factional rivalries within the Trinamool and finding it difficult to match Supriyo’s rigorous campaigning style. Supriyo is raising basic issues like supply of power, lack of drinking water and condition of roads.

While Babul seems to be cutting deep into the Trinamool vote bank, the 28 per cent Muslims in the constituency are likely to vote decisively against Modi.

There is though a chance of this vote being split three ways, between Trinamool, CPM and the Congress.

Local CPM leaders believe that even though the 48 per cent votes Chowdhury received in 2009 eroded to 38 per cent in the 2013 Panchayat polls, the BJP will not be able to make a difference here. BJP leaders hope that the ‘Modi factor’ will enable Babul’s victory; Modi addressed a massive rally at Asansol on May 4.

Many analysts began by predicting that the result will go in favour of Trinamool as in 201.
They later claimed that the trend might favour the CPM, with the BJP eating into the Trinamool’s vote share. But after Modi’s rally, some analysts point out that if BJP manages to notch up more than 30 per cent of the votes, the scene could see a significant change.
DH News Service

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