Frosty reception for Dasmunshi in Bhowanipore
Other than the fact that she is pitted against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is contesting from the same seat for the upcoming Assembly election, the biggest problem is mobilising Congress workers – most of whom have joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Dasmunshi is banking on CPI(M) leaders and workers and came to the CPI(M) party office to draw up plans. However, this has not gone down well with the traditional Congress voters.
Bhowanipore, which was a part of Chowringhee Assembly seat, was once a Congress bastion. It was once said that even if the Congress fielded a lamppost as its candidate from the seat, it would have won. But over the years the tables have turned. Veteran Congress leaders and supporters have either given up politics or have been sidelined and the youth have been drawn to TMC. Deepa Dasmunshi was not briefed about this erosion of strength by Congress leaders.
Dasmunshi’s rally in wards 71 and 72 saw a dismal turnout. Those who took part in the rally were mainly CPI(M) and All India Forward Bloc workers and a sprinkling of Congress workers. She even had to take the help of CPI(M) workers to write wall graffiti. Dasmunshi, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Raiganj, lost to Mohammed Salim of CPI(M) by less than 2000 votes. Yet, she blamed Banerjee for her defeat. Once again Dasmunshi is resorting to criticism of Banerjee in her door-to-door campaign which might backfire.
Deepa’s husband Priya Ranjan was elected from South Kolkata Lok Sabha seat in 1971, when he defeated veteran CPI(M) leader Ganesh Ghosh, a freedom fighter who fought alongside Surya Sen in the Chiitagong armoury revolt. Dasmunshi later contested and won Lok Sabha polls from from Howrah and Raigunj constituencies.
In 2011, Subrata Bakshi, a candidate of the Congress-TMC alliance, won in Bhowanipore by a margin of over 49,000 votes. Banerjee, then the Union Railway Minister, later won the seat in a by- election. The TMC-led Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s measures to control water logging and augment drinking water supply have proved to be effective. The upgrading and cleaning of roads, improvement of parks and installation of street lights have changed the landscape of Bhowanipore.
Bhowanipore has a substantial number of Gujarati and Punjabi voters and to capitalise on this, the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to field Chandra Kumar Bose, grandnephew of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address a meeting in his favour. This could make the situation tougher for Dasmunshi and it has to be seen if she can hold on her number two position.