It's TMC healing touch vs BJP NRC vow in Basirhat
Basirhat: Known as one of Bengal's most porous border areas with Bangladesh and a hub of illegal migration, Basirhat is set to witness a high octane electoral battle between Nusrat Jahan, Bengali screen actress and Trinamool Congress candidate, and Sayantan Basu, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary, in the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls on May 19.
Basirhat town is dotted with sugar mills, metalware manufacturing units and is a major trade depot for rice, jute, mustard, dates and potatoes produced in the surrounding areas.
In the semi-urban and rural parliamentary constituency, comprising seven Assembly seats of Baduria, Haroa, Minakhan, Sandeshkhali, Basirhat Dakshin, Basirhat Uttar and Hingalgunj, Muslims dominate by accounting for over 50 percent of the population.
In July 2017, Basirhat, located on the southern bank of the river Icchamati, witnessed "communal" tensions following a derogatory social media post on Prophet Mohammad.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool's Idris Ali defeated Communist Party of India's (CPI) Nurool Hooda by over one lakh votes. While Ali secured around 38 percent votes, his nearest rival Hooda received around 30 percent.
BJP's Samik Bhattacharya, though a distant third, had secured over 18 percent votes, increasing the party's vote share by 11.81 percent compared with 2009 elections.
In 2019, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee replaced sitting MP Idris Ali with a political greenhorn Nusrat Jahan.
The Congress nominee is a veteran local leader Abdur Rahim Kazi, while the CPI has fielded Pallab Sengupta.
The choice of Trinamool candidate is being seen as its attempt to project a fresh face with a mass outreach.
During her election rally in the constituency, Banerjee termed Jahan as
"a young girl who does not have deep understanding of politics" and appealed to the people to render whole-hearted support to Jahan.
The BJP candidate has courted controversies by asking the Central Forces to shoot potential miscreants in the chest.
"If Trinamool goons come to loot votes on polling day, I will ask the Central Forces to shoot them in the chest and not feet. The state police work for the Trinamool Congress.
"We will make sure that they are confined within the police stations, and only CRPF does the poll duty," Basu said during his campaign.
This statement drew sharp criticism and led the Election Commission to issue a show-cause notice against him.
On the other hand, Banerjee's decision to oppose both NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill is all set to make her party a clear favourite among the Muslims.
Jahan, campaigning nearly 12
hours a day, said she was confident that her message of love would win over people across communities as nobody liked violence.
"It is not about me. The people know voting for any other party will not cause them any good. I am representing the party that has worked for their good for years," she remarked.