Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Dum Dum’s poll fate in Bengal hinges on anti-TMC vote swing arithmetic

Sharp shifts in electoral mathematics in West Bengal's Dum Dum Lok Sabha seat compared to what poll equations looked like five years ago may just provide incumbent TMC MP Saugata Roy the necessary thrust to get past the saffron challenge that seems to have become steeper than before.
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 04:54 IST
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 04:54 IST

Follow Us :


Kolkata: Sharp shifts in electoral mathematics in West Bengal's Dum Dum Lok Sabha seat compared to what poll equations looked like five years ago may just provide incumbent TMC MP Saugata Roy the necessary thrust to get past the saffron challenge that seems to have become steeper than before.

While a straight-forward one-on-one contest between the TMC and BJP could have left Roy, a veteran parliamentarian, frowning, poll experts believe that the CPI(M)’s decision to field its central committee member and a well-known face in state politics, Sujan Chakraborty, from here and set the stage for a triangular contest may allow the incumbent to have his last laugh with a lesser vote share in the saffron camp kitty.

Some pollsters, though, attribute Congress-backed Chakraborty with the tag of 'dark horse' having 'reasonable potential' to wrest this prestigious seat in the northern fringes of Kolkata from the Trinamool if anti-Mamata Banerjee voters chose to tilt towards the Left in larger numbers than expected.

Roy is seeking a fourth term from Dum Dum on a TMC ticket and is acutely aware that his victory margin, after anti-TMC voters turned to the BJP, suffered a drop in 2019 by almost one lakh votes compared to the previous edition in 2014 despite his vote percentage staying nearly the same on both occasions.

"A strong CPI(M) candidate can only arrest the transfer of the Left votes to the BJP to some extent, but nothing more than that," Roy asserted.

"Dum Dum is among 20 Lok sabha seats where the Left-Congress combine is likely to show its mettle in West Bengal. It's also a test for the BJP to hold on to its support base it managed to consolidate in 2019," political scientist Maidul Islam of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, told PTI while suggesting that a notable chunk of anti-TMC, Left sympathizers had voted for the BJP last time for want of a strong alternative.

Islam's statement found resonance in political analyst Subhomay Maitra. "This time, the CPI(M)'s vote share is likely to increase from the earlier 14 per cent, which could be a shot in the arm for the TMC and a damper for BJP's prospects," Maitra said.

In a three-cornered battle, the winning candidate must bag over 30 per cent of votes polled. Managing to secure one of every five votes on the electors' list would make the nominee victorious, he explained.

"In a context such as this, Sujan Chakraborty has a reasonable chance to clinch the Dum Dum seat," Maitra said.

BJP’s nominee for the seat, Shilbhadra Dutta, a former Trinamool MLA from the region who migrated to the saffron party in December 2020 ahead of the state polls, sounded unimpressed with the math.

"Why should people vote for the CPI(M), which has lost national relevance, in a parliamentary poll?" he asked.

Claiming that the Ram Mandir consecration in Ayodhya would help improve BJP's performance in the constituency by consolidating at least three per cent of Hindu votes, Dutta argued that the perception of the Left eating into the pie of anti-TMC votes was far removed from ground reality.

"People want a stable government at the Centre and the BJP is their only option. This Lok Sabha election is being fought on a single narrative: Modi. Either you are for him or against him. My campaign experience tells me people here want to teach the corrupt TMC leaders a lesson and that's where we come in," he told PTI.

Chakraborty differed and maintained that voters have started realising that the "TMC and the BJP are opposite sides of the same coin, and both are anti-people".

"Post 2021 assembly elections, the vote share of the Left has increased in civic body and panchayat polls, which is encouraging for us. We are extremely hopeful that the trend would continue," he said.

That hope was treated with ridicule from the veteran TMC MP who built his argument on the erosion of Left cadres in the state.

"Unlike the erstwhile Left regime, the CPI(M) currently has no depth in organisational strength. They are trying hard but will be on the losing side," he said.

In Dum Dum, where a significant portion of people are migrants from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, the controversy over the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act could play on the voters’ minds, felt Maitra.

Islam chipped in with his gut feeling that the 'turncoat' label on Dutta could dampen the leader's prospects among voters who do not take political flip-flops kindly.

But it's the incumbent TMC MP who seemed to be at the receiving end of local disgruntlement over the mushrooming of unauthorized real estate constructions and stagnancy in industries in Dum Dum.

"It's sad to see the depleting industry scenario of this region which was once prominent in the industrial map of the state," said Rajkumar Bhattacharya, a resident of Kamarhati, an industry-intense assembly segment of the seat.

Chhanda Sen, a housewife residing in adjoining Dum Dum Uttar, said the ruling party may face voters' backlash on account of the drinking water crisis which persists despite long-standing demands for a respite.

Roy dismissed anti-incumbency perceptions against the TMC, stating that people reposed faith in him five years ago despite the presence of such issues. "Drinking water concern is a fact. But that does not mean people will turn away from the Trinamool since they know we will solve the problem." Roy added.

The 16-lakh-odd eligible voters in Dum Dum will head for their respective polling stations on June 1, the final phase of elections.

Published 08 May 2024, 04:54 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us