Battle lines drawn, nine key seats up for grabs on Sunday
Kolkata: More than 1.15 crore people staying in nine Lok Sabha constituencies will exercise their franchise on Sunday during the last phase of the seven-phase election.
The star candidates of the Trinamool Congress who are contesting from these seats are Saugata Roy (Dum Dum), Abhishek Banerjee (Diamond Harbour). Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has nominated two Bollywood actors, Mimi Chakraborty in Jadavpur and Nusrat Jahan in Basirhat.
The constituencies where election will be held are Barasat, Basirhat, Dum Dum in North 24-Parganas, Diamond Harbour, Mathurapur, Joynagar and Jadavpur in South 24-Parganas and Kolkata North and South respectively.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress candidates had won in all these seats.
In 2014 Sugata Basu, well-known historian from Harvard University was elected from Jadavpur seat. He had defeated Sujan Chakraborty of the CPI(M) by over 1.25 lakh votes.
This time, CPI(M) has fielded Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya, former Mayor of Kolkata while BJP's nominee is Anupam Hazra, former Trinamool MP who recently joined BJP.
Political pundits said though the CPI(M) has an edge over the TMC in Jadavpur and Tollygunge Assembly seats, it does not have any hold in the rural belt like Baruipur East, Baruipur West, Sonarpur West and South, Sonarpur North and Bhangar. Trinamool Congress has MLAs in all these seats and the Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samity are under its control. The party's organisational strength is very strong in South 24-Parganas. With this backdrop, the Trinamool Congress is likely to retain its seat.
Actor-turned-politician Nusrat Jahan has replaced the sitting MP Idris Ali. The MLAs of seven constituencies and the Panchayats are under the control of the TMC. In 2014, Ali had defeated his rival by over 1.09 lakh votes. BJP's organisation is weak in North 24-Parganas and the chance of Trinamool retaining the seat is very high.
In Barasat, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar has been re-nominated. She had won the seat by 1.73 lakh votes in 2014. She was also elected in 2009 and is waiting to make a hattrick in 2019.
Saugata Roy is contesting against Nepaldeb Bhattacharya of CPI(M) and Shamik Bhattacharya of BJP in Dum Dum. Roy had won the seat by over 1.54 lakh votes and defeated Asim Dasgupta, former Finance minister of the Left Front government and Tapan Sikdar, former Union minister of the BJP. Roy, who is very popular in the area, is likely to retain the seat.
Abhishek Banerjee, the Trinamool Youth Congress president, is contesting from Diamond Harbour. He had won by 71, 298 votes in 2014. Over the past five years, Diamond Harbour has come up as a major tourist spot and the road connectivity has immensely improved.
Political experts are of the view that neither CPI(M) nor BJP has organisation in these constituencies. "Taking the people to the polling station on the day of election depends on organisation and any political party with a rock-solid foundation always has an edge over its rivals," said an expert.