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It's TMC healing touch vs BJP NRC vow in Basirhat

IANS  |  Basirhat (West Bengal) 

Known as one of West Bengal's most porous border areas with and a hub of illegal migration, is set to witness a high octane electoral battle between Nusrat Jahan, Bengali and Trinamool candidate, and Sayanta Basu, state (BJP) general secretary, in the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls on May 19.

Situated around 70 km northeast of state capital Kolkata, town is dotted with sugar mills, metalware manufacturing units and is a major trade depot for rice, jute, mustard, dates and potatoes produced in the surrounding areas.

In the semi-urban and rural parliamentary constituency, comprising seven Assembly seats of Baduria, Haroa, Minakhan, Sandeshkhali, Dakshin, Basirhat Uttar and Hingalgunj, Muslims dominate by accounting for over 50 per cent of the population.

In July 2017, Basirhat, located on the southern of the river Icchamati, shimmered with communal tensions following a derogatory post on Prophet Mohammad. The trouble begun in Baduria and spilled over to rest of the constituency, turning the area into a no-go zone for almost a week.

Mobs attacked local police station in Baduria, and temples and houses of Hindus in Basirhat. Though the tension was contained after a week, it seems to have created a strong undercurrent of communal polarisation.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool's defeated Communist Party of India's (CPI) Nurool Hooda by over one lakh votes. While Ali secured around 38 per cent votes, his nearest rival Hooda received around 30 per cent. BJP's Samik Bhattacharya, though a distant third, had secured over 18 per cent votes, increasing the share by 11.81 per cent compared with 2009 elections.

In 2019, and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee replaced sitting Idris Ali, who played a key role in organising Muslim protests against controversial Bangladeshi in Kolkata, with a political greenhorn

The nominee is a veteran local leader Abdur Rahim Kazi, while the CPI has fielded Pallab Sengupta.

The choice of Trinamool candidate is being seen as its attempt to dilute, if not completely undo, the communal polarisation that now characterises Bashirhat.

But a section of conservative Muslims in Basirhat has been upset with the Trinamool candidate, particularly after videos of Jahan speaking against triple talaq, an Islamic practice banned by the apex court, went viral on

During her election rally in the constituency, Banerjee termed Jahan as "a young girl who does not have deep understanding of politics" and appealed people not to take her (Jahan's) statements to heart.

The BJP candidate, upon "rashtravaad and vikaas" (nationalism and development), is hoping that conservative Muslim backlash against Jahan will damage the TMC's prospects. He himself has, however, courted controversies by asking the central force to shoot potential miscreants in the chest.

"If Trinamool goons come to loot votes on polling day, I will ask the central forces to shoot them in the chest and not feet. The work for the We will make sure that they are confined within the police stations, and only CRPF does the poll duty," Basu said during his campaign.

This statement drew sharp criticism and led the to issue a show cause notice against him.

Basu, however, is upbeat and believes the BJP promise to implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Bengal and drive away infiltrators will give his party major traction among Hindu voters of Basirhat, many of whom are directly affected by infiltration.

Narendra Modi, addressing a rally in Taki on Wednesday, wooed locals by promising action against infiltrators, besides stopping crimes, like cow smuggling and human trafficking.

On the other hand, Banerjee's decision to oppose both NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill should make her party a clear favourite among Muslims.

Jahan, campaigning nearly 12-hour a day, said she was confident that her message of love would win over people across communities as nobody liked violence. "It is not about me. The people know voting for any other party will not cause them any good. I am representing the party that has worked for their good for years," she remarked.

(Milinda Ghosh Roy can be contacted at milinda.r@ians.in)

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 20:22 IST
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