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Lok Sabha elections: In North Kolkata, Congress hopes for low turnout

Monday, 12 May 2014 - 6:42am IST | Place: Kolkata | Agency: dna

Professor Asim Dutta is tensed, and agitated. Even though the campaign manager for Congress' Kolkata North candidate Somen Mitra believes that his candidate has a fair chance of winning, there is a big "if".
That "if" is whether the Trinamool Congress manages to prevent voters from going to polling booths though violence and intimidation, feels Dutta. "If you go and check all the small hotels and lodges of the fringe areas of North Kolkata in Sealdah and also in central Kolkata, you will find that they are filled with goondas and hooligans brought from outside," he says.

The tension is palpable across the North Kolkata constituency as Mitra, a former Trinamool member of Parliament takes on Trinamool big shot Supid Bandopadhay, who had own the 2009 polls with an enviable margin of a lakh votes and a share of 52%.

"Trinamool cadre are raiding households and snatching away voters' cards so that the next morning they are unable to vote," says Dutta.

The BJP's Rahul Sinha, who leads the party in the state, is also dreaming about winning the constituency, and has had much support from the party's PM nominee Narendra Modi during campaigning.
CPI(M) whose popular candidate Mohammad Salim last time managed a modest 40% votes, isn't contesting, replaced by municipality councilor Rupa Bagchi. With the CPI(M) lying low, its a triangular fight between the TMC, the Congress and the BJP in North Kolkata.

Even as Modi's frequent visits to Bengal, when he attacked state chief minister Mamata Banerjee on governance issues, including, Saradha scam, BJP's Sinha is also banking on his outreach to the significant non-Bengali population in this constituency, including the trader community, the Marwaris and Gujaratis, and also the Biharis, particularly the migrant population who work in these trading hubs.

All those who have made Kolkata their home over the years are now being considered as BJP converts, following the so-called Modi wave.

In contrast, Kolkata South is largely a Trinamool phenomenon, primarily because it is Mamata's home.

She had won from this constituency with a margin of 2,19,571 votes in 2009, a feat surpassed by Subrata Bakshi of her party in a by-poll in 2011, necessitated by her resignation.

Bakshi, who had at that time won by a margin of 2,30,099 votes, is contesting again, against Mala Ray of the Congress and Nandini Mukherjee of the CPI(M).

Soft-spoken Mukherjee, a professor of Computer Science in Jadavpur University, is no match for Bakshi while Mala Roy is an active grass roots Congress worker.

For the record, Mudar Patherya, the Aam Admi Party candidate and a well-known face from Kolkata's corporate sector, withdrew his candidature, citing health reasons but apparently he was peeved by the party's state of affairs.

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