Constituency Watch: Bengal BJP President confident of increasing victory margin in Balurghat

Kolkata: This is probably for the first time that Balurghat, the sole Lok Sabha constituency on the Indo-Bangladesh bordering South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, is so much in the limelight.

In all probability Balurghat this time will witness a four-cornered contest as the Congress has announced its decision to field a candidate from there although the Left Front has already nominated the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) candidate Joydeb Siddhant.

The main candidate for whom the Balurghat constituency has become a high-profile seat this time is state BJP President Sukanta Majumdar, who is the sitting Lok Sabha member from there.

By his own admission, his target this time is to increase his winning margin from a little over 33,000 votes achieved in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. There are many reasons for his confidence.

He is known as an MP who has nurtured his constituency during the last five years and has been active in negotiating with the Union government to get funds for the development of the district.

The most significant development is the improvement in railway networking. “The train by which I travelled to Balurghat today was unimaginable five years back. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi says that a ‘Viksit Bharat’ is never possible without s ‘Viksit Bengal”, he means it, the reflection of which is evident from the improvement in the railway network in the district during the last couple of years,” Majumdar said after his first tour of Balurghat after being re-nominated by his party.

The Trinamool Congress has fielded Biplab Mitra, the only member of the state cabinet from South Dinajpur district, as the party candidate from Balurghat. A two-time elected party legislator from the same district, Mitra is also a popular face there.

However, he has three drawbacks. First, this is his first contest for the Lok Sabha and it is to be seen how far his popularity as a MLA from Harirampur assembly constituency in the same district will help him in gaining the vote’s confidence in the entire Balurghat constituency.

Secondly, his joining the BJP from the Trinamool Congress before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and coming back again to the ruling party in July 2020 has created an impression of being a “habitually turncoat” politician.

The BJP is launching a strong campaign by fielding Mitra, the only member in the state cabinet from South Dinajpur, for the Lok Sabha election.

The third candidate announced so far, the RSP’s Joydeb Siddhant, is quite popular in the academic circles in the district because of his long experience as a teacher-leader in the district. However, considering the RSP’s fragile organization in the district the going is quite tough for Siddhant.

Balurghat had been a strong bastion of the RSP for a long time, with the people of the constituency giving the Left Front constituent ten consecutive victories between 1977 and 2009.

Even amid the Trinamool Congress wave in 2009, the RSP candidate Prasant Kumar Majumdar got elected from the constituency though with an extremely thin margin of a little over 5,000 votes.

However, the pattern changed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the Trinamool Congress candidate got elected from Balurghat by a margin of over 1,00,000 votes.

The equation changed again in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, with the BJP’s Sukanta Majumdar emerging as the victor. Balurghat has a voter strength of a little over 12 lakh, with the Hindu percentage being around 65 per cent. The constituency has a sizable population of people from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Dependence on agriculture for livelihood is very high there.


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