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Constituency Watch: Can division of anti-BJP votes make a dent in Trinamool fortress Diamond Harbour?

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Kolkata, April 18 (IANS) Much before the announcement of the Lok Sabha poll schedule on March 16, the Diamond Harbour constituency in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district was the most talked about seat in the state. And it continues to remain so with polling scheduled on June 1, the last day of the seven-phase elections starting Friday.The main reason for the public curiosity about this seat is its two-term sitting MP and Trinamool Congress General Secretary, Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has been renominated this time as well.Diamond Harbour was in the news since the beginning of the year after Nawsad Siddique, the lone All India Secular Front (AISF) representative in the West Bengal Assembly, expressed his desire to contest the seat, which has a substantial number of minority voters.Given that Siddique is a popular face among the minority population in the state, a perception was formed that if he contests, Siddique could give a tough fight to Abhishek Banerjee. However, that possibility fizzled out after the AISF fielded Majnu Laskar from Diamond Harbour.Interestingly, the BJP announced its candidate for the seat quite a few days after naming its nominees for the 41 other Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. On Tuesday, the party announced Abhijit Das, popular as Bobby, as the BJP candidate from Diamond Harbour. The delayed nomination seems to be part BJP’s strategy considering Bobby’s long association with Diamond Harbour.Besides contesting against Abhishek Banerjee from Diamond Harbour in 2014, Bobby was the BJP’s organisational district president for quite some time. He also has the experience of working as the co-convener of the party’s state election management team.The CPI-M has fielded its young face and student leader Pratik Ur Rahaman, who has been associated with Diamond Harbour since his college days as a leader of the party’s student wing, the SFI.Rahaman is focussing more on door-to-door campaigns, raising issues of corruption, particularly the multi-crore cash-for-school jobs case in the state.Going by recent electoral history, including the 2021 Assembly elections, Diamond Harbour has been a Trinamool stronghold since 2009, when veteran politician late Somen Mitra won from here on a TMC ticket, ending decades of CPI-M domination.In 2019, Abhishek Banerjee was re-elected by a margin of over 3.20 lakh votes. In the 2021 Assembly elections, the Trinamool swept all seven seats under the Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency.A booth-wise analysis shows that the consolidation of minority votes in favour of Trinamool in both 2019 and 2021 led to landslide victories for the ruling party.However, with the AISF candidate in the race now and the CPI-M fielding a strong candidate, both representing the minority community, it needs to be seen how far the Trinamool gains from the consolidation of minority votes this time.Diamond Harbour was traditionally a red bastion from 1967 to 2009, handing the CPI-M 13 victories in a row. The constituency has given the Lok Sabha some of the most respected Parliamentarians such as Jyotirmoy Basu, Amal Dutta, and Samik Lahiri.However, the equation changed in 2009 when Somen Mitra won, and the trend continued since then with Abhishek Banerjee scripting back-to-back victories in 2014 and 2019, and the Trinamool sweeping the Assembly polls.–IANSsrc/arm

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