West Bengal elections: TMC, Forward Bloc take massive bets by replacing local leaders with outsiders

By Zaidul Haque, Twocircles.net

Kolkata: Deganga is the largest Muslim-dominated constituency in the North 24 Parganas district, with over 60% Muslim voters, but the main battle for the seat has put locals against ‘outsiders’.

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Deganga, which was a bastion for the All India Forward Bloc between 1991 and 2006, is currently under TMC leadership. However, this year the party has nominated Rahima Mondal, a resident of Bangaon of the same district. Interestingly, All India Fordward Block, which won this constituency between 1991 and 2006, has also brought in a candidate from outside: Hasanoor Zaman Chowdhury is residing of Central Kolkata.

In 20111, Dr M Nuruzzaman from TMC won by a margin of 17,000, but many believe that this time around, it may not be a cakewalk as the party is facing a number of issues.

After TMC announced their candidate for Deganga constituency, the supporters of block level TMC leader Mintu Sahaji blocked roads to protest, but such protests have largely fallen out now. However, local residents are quick to point that supporters of Mintu Sahaji are campaigning against Rahima Mondal.

Forward Bloc is in the same boat as TMCm having changed its candidate from the last time. By not announcing the name of last Assembly election’s runner-up and former Minister Dr Mortaza Hossain name, it has irked its voter base.

Lack of higher education in area a major concern for locals

According to Farid Ahmed, a local primary school teacher of Ula, near Kadambakachi under the Deganga constituency, TMC has missed a trick by not nominating Dr M Nuruzzaman who is a doctor by profession. “We need qualified Muslim MLAs more in number so that our concerns are raised. MLA Nuruzzaman was very much active in this area and worked towards addressing the problems of Muslims and other backward people,” he said.

He said that the only advantage that Rahima, who will be the first woman MLA from the area if she wins, had was that Mamata Banerjee had campaigned for her and considers her an important candidate. “That may not be enough. After the alliance between the Left Front and the Congress, it will not be easy to retain this seat in favour of TMC,” he added.

But according to Maulana Amir Hossain, a kindergarten school teacher, the backwardness of the area is a far bigger problem than who is a local and who is an outside. “There have been no development initiatives taken by either the Left Front or the TMC,” he said. Hossain believes that if the winning candidate gets a ministry, then they can expect proper development in this area. “There is lack of Higher Secondary school for the Science stream, but government is still silent on the matter. Regardless of who wins, we want to see progress,” he added.