Curiosity over Sorcar in Barasat

Magic has become the key word at Barasat Lok Sabha constituency in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal ever since the BJP fielded P C Sorcar Junior as its candidate from the constituency. Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee has banked on her close aide and sitting MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar to counter the saffron spell.

The contest is set to be interesting as Sorcar’s charms will be pitted against Mamata’s political craft. A bustling suburb that is currently witnessing a real estate boom, Barasat constituency is also beleaguered by issues like infrastructure development, basic amenities like roads and water supply and rising crime. While delimitation led to the inclusion of Kolkata’s satellite township Salt Lake, the settlement of Rajarhat New Town, a burgeoning new satellite township, is also its part.

The region, a good mix of urban, semi-urban and rural areas, is dogged by rivalry between syndicates of builders, most of which are controlled by the TMC. Further north, communal riots often flare up, causing a deep divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. With these issues at play, the area is going to polls on May 12, along with a few other constituencies.

Since 2009, when Ghosh Dastidar won the seat with a margin of around 1.2 lakh, the TMC has worked hard to establish its domination and ensured that the opposition Left, which ruled the roost here for years, is not just ousted but its backbone is crushed so that it cannot stand up on its feet. Added to this is the fact that the lower ranks of the CPM joined the TMC, ensuring the ruling party comes on top under any circumstances.

While Riju Ghoshal of the Congress and Mortaza Hossain of Forward Bloc are also in the contest, Sorcar’s entry into the fray has added curiosity to the battle and made the fight tougher. With the Left candidate rather weak and Congress’ Ghoshal being a newcomer, Ghosh Dastidar is on a strong wicket. Sorcar, however, could still pull off a few tricks and turn the tables.

Left leaders admitted to an undercurrent of support for the BJP. “Ghosh Dastidar won last time with a margin of 1.2 lakh. If the BJP manages to draw around 55,000-60,000 votes, then there is a chance for our candidate,” he said.

Sorcar seems confident of his win and feels that local Muslim voters would vote in his favour. This, however, seems unlikely as a number of communal flare-ups in the northern parts of the constituency in recent times ensured a strong polarisation of votes. The Left, however, also believes crowds are thronging to see Sorcar for his celebrity stature and it will not translate into votes.

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