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Feud in BJP & Left's shrunken vote bank to help Sashi Panja: Experts

Feud in BJP & Lefts shrunken vote bank to help Sashi Panja: Experts
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Kolkata: BJP's infighting and the fast depletion of Left Front's vote bank have placed Dr Shashi Panja, Trinamool Congress nominee, on an advantageous position — giving her an edge over the rivals — in Shyampukur Assembly constituency, political analysts opined on Friday.

Dr Panja had won the seat by over 26,000 votes in 2011 and 13, 400 votes in 2016. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Trinamool trailed behind BJP by 2,500 votes. This was mainly due to infighting in Trinamool Congress while the BJP had put up a united fight. However, over the years, Dr Panja has been successful in addressing the intra-party issues, analysts observed.

Shyampukur Assembly constituency comprises 11 wards of Kolkata Municipal Corporation. It covers the areas that lie between Galiff Street and Vivekananda Road; and Rabindra Sarani and Bidhan Sarani. Three centres of Ramakrishna Mission, namely Mayer Bari, Balaram Mandir and Swami Vivekananda's ancestral house fall under the constituency. Kumartuli, the state's one of the oldest areas of clay idol-making and Sonagachi, the state's biggest red light area, are also a part of the constituency. A visit to the area revealed that sheer leg work is Panja's USP. She has offices in every ward where she sits at least once a week to listen to the grievances of the people.

During the pandemic, she visited the areas and ensured that the people received food and medicines. Her work in the red light area, particularly giving ration during the lockdown, has been appreciated throughout the country. She distributed toys and books among children during the lockdown to overcome their stress and boredom.

Two big Pujas are held in Shyampukur constituency, namely, Bagbazar Sarbojonin and Kashi Bose Lane that take part in competitions and bag prizes. To encourage the small clubs, she has introduced Utkarshini Shamman, which has developed healthy competition among the associations.

The areas under Shyampukur constituency represent old Kolkata. There are traditional Bengalis families who have been living in the area for generations. In these areas, the legacy of Ajit Panja is vibrant. The non-Bengali voters play an important role in the constituency. But, analysts claimed that BJP had failed to make major inroads due to organisational weakness in the constituency.

In this poll, BJP has fielded Sandipan — a Trinamool turncoat — as its candidate. The old BJP workers are not pumping much effort to support him, sources said. Jiban Krishna Saha, the candidate of Sanjukta Morcha was a two-time MLA from the area. He won the by-election in 2004 and then Assembly election in 2006. But, over the years massive defection has taken place in the Left Front's vote bank. The Left Front has failed to rope in the youths, analysts said. The constituency will go to polls on April 29 during the last phase of election.

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