Infighting in Trinamool gives advantage to Nisith Pramanik in Bengal’s Cooch Behar

Kolkata: The sole Lok Sabha constituency in India-Bangladesh bordering Cooch Behar district in Bengal will be an interesting contest for multiple reasons.

While BJP’s sitting Lok Sabha member from the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat and the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nisith Pramanik has already started a full-fledged campaign there with the principal talking-point being the Prime Minister’s Viksit Bharat slogan, his closest opponents seem to be a little confused over the line of campaign to be adopted for the forthcoming polls.

Cooch Behar, with voter strength of little over 18 lakh, is scheduled to go to polls in the first phase on April 19.

The factionalism within Trinamool Congress in Cooch Behar, mainly between the followers of a high profile party legislator and those aligning with a former district president of the party, seems to be playing a negative role in organising an orchestrated campaign against the heavyweight candidate of BJP.

Trinamool Congress has fielded Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia, the sitting party MLA from Sitai, one of the nine Assembly constituencies in the district. Basunia has already started feeling the pinch of the party infighting in the district as a number of heavyweight party leaders are remaining absent from the camping rallies and street-corner meetings.

One such aggrieved leader from the district, Purnachandra Sinha said that despite being with Trinamool Congress in the party’s bad times, several senior leaders from the district are being kept away from activities since the panchayat elections last year. “So this time, we have decided to keep ourselves away from the electoral process,” he said.

Similar opinion was expressed by the block president of the party’s peasant wing, Juljelal Miyan. Despite being the block president of a branch organisation, his suggestions were being ignored for long by the party’s district leadership. “Precisely that is why we are keeping away from poll-related activities though emotionally I am still with Trinamool Congress,” he said.

However, Basunia himself is confident that the recent notification on CAA, which has created negative reaction among the Rajbanshi population, is bound to backfire for BJP’s heavyweight candidate in the forthcoming Lok Sabha politics.

The Left Front constituent All India Forward Bloc has filed veteran party organisation man from the district Nitish Chandra Roy, who had grown in the party beginning his life with student politics. Admitting that the organizational network of his party is not in the right shape in the district, Roy said that he is focusing on door-to-door campaigns rather than big rallies or meetings.

Cooch Behar had been a strong bastion of the All India Forward for a long time, with the people of the constituency giving the Left Front constituent 10 consecutive victories between 1977 and 2009.

Even amid the Trinamool Congress wave in 2009, All India Forward Bloc candidate Nripendra Nath Roy got elected from the constituency with a margin of a little over 41,000 votes.

However, the pattern changed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the Trinamool Congress candidate Renuka Sinha got elected from Cooch Behar by a margin of little less than one lakh votes. In the 2016 bypolls to the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha, the Trinamool Congress candidate Partha Pratim Roy increased the winning margin to over four lakh votes.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with BJP’s Nisith Pramanik emerging as a victor by a margin of over 50,000 votes.


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