The second phase of election scheduled to be held on April 17 will decide the fate of seven heavyweight candidates.
Ashok Bhattacharya, former state Urban development minister and presently the mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation, one of the chief protagonists of the Left- Congress alliance will be contesting against Baichung Bhutia, former Indian soccer captain.
Bhattacharya had first made the alliance with Congress to bag the Siliguri civic body and hence this is called the “Siliguri line” in common parlance. Bhutia has enormous popularity in the area and the constituency is likely to witness a tough fight.
While the Chief Minister had campaigned for Bhutia, CPI(M) secretary Sitaram Yehchury had campaigned for Bhattacharya.
North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb will be contesting from Dabgram Phulbari. Deb’s popularity has gone down and he is trying hard to retain his bastion.
Former GNLF MLA Shanta Chettri will be contesting from Kuerseong in Trinamool Congress’s ticket. Chettri is a popular figure in the area and is likely to do well in the election.
Harka Bahadur Chettri will also be contesting from Kalimpong seat in TMC’s banner.
Two ministers in TMC cabinet Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury and Sabitri Mitra will be contesting from Malda. Chowdhury joined Trinamool after winning the seat. Mitra, a veteran Congress leader and a close aide of ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury also joined TMC after the 2011 polls.
While Mitra’s return is almost sanguine, Chowdhury is facing a tough situation as CPI(M) is backing an independent candidate.
Trinamool Congress’ organisation was not very strong in North Bengal. But over the years the party has increased its strength and is likely to put up a stiff fight and bag more seats.
Political observers believe that if TMC could do well on April 17, its chance of forming the government with more seats would be brighter.