Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Poll fever missing in Bengal's Bankura as a doctor, two lawyers fight it out

In Bankura constituency, which goes to polls less than a week on May 25, election fever is not yet visible, be it in the district headquarters town or in the rural areas.
Last Updated : 21 May 2024, 07:40 IST
Last Updated : 21 May 2024, 07:40 IST

Follow Us :


Bankura, West Bengal: Colourful poll graffiti, street corner meetings and flags of different parties on tree branches, the usual paraphernalia associated with elections, are all visible in every nook and corner of the Bankura Lok Sabha seat, except the poll fever among people which seems to be missing.

The phenomenon of people going about their daily lives like any other time of the year when elections, parliamentary polls no less, are at the doorstep, could be normal in some parts of the country but is quite unusual in Bengal.

In Bankura constituency, which goes to polls less than a week on May 25, election fever is not yet visible, be it in the district headquarters town or in the rural areas.

Hara Sunder Dutta, assistant secretary of Bankura district Hindu Mahasabha admits that there is a general lack of enthusiasm among the people about the elections.

"People are now more interested in their own work and lives," he said.

Somnath Barat, a local businessman who doubles up as a social media journalist, says this time around, the electorate in Bankura is not just indifferent, but are guarding from making their opinion public.

The BJP has renominated Subhas Sarkar, a doctor and Union Minister of State for Education, in the outgoing NDA government, while the TMC has put up its Bankura district president and advocate Arup Chakraborty. The CPI(M) has fielded lawyer Nilanjan Dasgupta from the seat, where a total of 12 candidates are in the fray.

Asserting that Sarkar will win his second term from the constituency, Dutta claimed that the Trinamool nominee is facing strains within a section of his party workers.

Maintaining that this election will be a close fight between the two candidates, Barat said, "Arup Chakraborty is a formidable candidate and is a good organiser." A TMC official in Ranibandh claimed that Chakraborty, the sitting MLA of the ruling party from Taldangra assembly segment, will certainly win, wresting the seat from the BJP.

Stating that in 2019, a section of party workers had not put in full effort since the previous TMC candidate Subrata Mukherjee was "an outsider" to Bankura, TMC's Ranibandh block president Uttam Mahato told this correspondent, "but this time, Arup Chakraborty is a son of the soil and he will be available among us round the year." In 2014, cine star Moon Moon Sen, a Kolkata resident like Mukherjee, had won from Bankura on a TMC ticket, breaking the CPI(M)'s stranglehold on the seat which its leader Basudev Acharia won in nine consecutive elections from 1980.

Speaking of Chakraborty as his opponent, Sarkar claimed that the TMC candidate was no match for him.

"In 2019, my opponent was a big shot. Subrata Mukherjee was very popular in the state and also among the youth, but Modi-ji's development and people’s faith in him (turned the elections around)," Sarkar told PTI.

Sarkar, who finished third in the 2014 elections from the seat, defeated the veteran TMC leader by a margin of 1.74 lakh votes in 2019. The constituency witnessed a swing of nearly 29 per cent vote share in favour of the BJP at the expense of CPI(M) between the two elections.

"Chakraborty is nothing in comparison to Mukherjee," the BJP candidate said, asserting that his margin will significantly increase this time.

Dismissing Sarkar's claim, Chakraborty said that the TMC has made a turnaround in Bankura since the panchayat polls and would continue its winning streak.

"I work for the people here 24x7," the TMC candidate told PTI.

Claiming that Sarkar has not done much for the people of Bankura as its MP, Chakraborty alleged that even within the BJP's ground-level workers, there are murmurs of dissent over his candidature.

Sarkar, on the other hand, asserted that the people of Bankura and the workers and supporters of BJP were steadfastly with him.

Better known as "Daktarbabu" in the region on account of his medical degree, Sarkar said that he has adequately spent his MPLAD funds in various development projects in the constituency in the last five years.

He said that Rs 150 crore was given to the Bankura Sammilani Medical College by the Centre for Infrastructure Development.

"The project is complete, but unfortunately the state government cannot provide doctors and nurses and that is why the benefits cannot be reached to the people," he said.

CPI(M) candidate Nilanjan Dasgupta, a criminal lawyer practising in Bankura court, asserted that the Left votes which went to the TMC and BJP in 2014 and 2019, will come back to its fold.

"People have now realized that the MPs from these parties are indifferent to their plight," he said, claiming that only the Left members are vocal about people’s issues, from rights, livelihood to food and education, in Parliament.

Dasgupta claimed that it is a good sign for the Left that people are largely tight-lipped about their political choices and said this could mean the electorate has had a change of mind.

"Voters are disillusioned with the degeneration in politics which is currently dominated by religion at one end and allegations of corruption at the other," the CPI(M) candidate said.

Both the TMC and BJP leadership in the constituency claimed that a section of the Kurmi community putting up Surajit Singh Kurmali as an independent candidate will not be able to queer their pitch.

The Kurmis have been agitating over a string of demands including recognition as a scheduled tribe, recognition of Sarna religion and inclusion of Kurmali language in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.

In the 2021 West Bengal assembly elections, the BJP had won four and TMC three segments in the Bankura Lok Sabha constituency.

The BJP had won Bankura, Chhatna, Saltora (SC) and Raghunathpur (SC), the last being in Purulia district.

The TMC had won the Ranibandh and Raipur segments, which are reserved for scheduled tribes, apart from Taldangra.

Published 21 May 2024, 07:40 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us