Stage set for ‘TMC vs TMC’ close fight in Kolkata North

Initially dubbed as a Trinamool Congress versus Trinamool Congress contest, the BJP gained ground after Prime Minister Narendra Modi organised a road show on May 28.
Sudip Bandyopadhyay (AITC), Tapas Roy (BJP)
Sudip Bandyopadhyay (AITC), Tapas Roy (BJP)

KOLKATA: The Kolkata North constituency where polls will be held on June 1, is set to witness a tough triangular contest between Sudip Bandyopadhyay (AITC), BJP’s Tapas Roy — a defector from Trinamool Congress — and Pradip Bhattacharya (Congress).

Initially dubbed as a Trinamool Congress versus Trinamool Congress contest, the BJP gained ground after Prime Minister Narendra Modi organised a road show on May 28.

The next day Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took out a padyatra from Shyambazar to Vivekananda road, the same route as that of Modi.

Sources in the TMC said that after the footmarch, Banerjee met Bandyopadhyay and Kunal Ghosh separately at their residences. Bandyopadhyay, a five-term MP and the AITC’s leader in the Lok Sabha, is set to increase his victory margin this time. He said there is no need to clarify his position in his locality as people see him round the year. “I don’t work before polls. I work the entire year. So I am confident that this year my vote share will increase from Kolkata North. People in the area can give my feedback better than me,” added a confident Bandyopadhyay.

Given its urban character and predominantly urban voters, the AITC has maintained control over this seat. Before Roy left the AITC, his bitter relationship with Bandyopadhyay had come to the fore. The latter, however, enjoyed the confidence of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, a factor that has always stood him in good stead in his political career.

Even as cyclone Remal battered the state, Banerjee campaigned extensively for Bandyopadhyay and held a rally and a roadshow in an inundated city the day after. Roy -- Bandyopadhyay’s rival -- is known as a “people’s man”. A resident of central Kolkata’s Bowbazar, the BJP candidate is known to be accessible to people.

When Roy, current MLA and deputy chief whip of Trinamool at the time, resigned from the party, weeks after the ED raided his house ahead of the Lok Sabha election announcement, he claimed that the probe agency was sent by Bandyopadhyay to his house.

The ED had raided his residence in connection with alleged irregularities in civic body recruitments. Roy was first elected as MLA on the Congress ticket in 1996 from the Vidyasagar assembly constituency. He won the 2001 assembly election on an AITC ticket from Burrabazar. In 2011, he moved to Baranagar assembly constituency in North 24 Parganas district and has been an MLA since then.

Ghosh openly favoured Roy even after the latter left the party. Besides, the AITC is also grappling with a feud within the constituency which may give an edge to Roy, say political analysts.

Predominantly urban voters in this seat

Given its urban character and predominantly urban voters, the AITC has maintained control over this seat. Before Roy left the AITC, his bitter relationship with Bandyopadhyay had come to the fore. The latter, however, enjoyed the confidence of CM Mamata Banerjee.

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