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Inside Krishnanagar, the land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that resonates with chants of 'Jai Shri Ram'

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Press Trust of India Krishnanagar
The ruling Trinamool Congress is up for a stringent fight in Nadia's Krishnanagar amid a Hindutva upsurge and with national issues taking centre-stage over the local woes.
The BJP is targeting Krishnanagar, the land of 15th century Bengali saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and home to the globally-known ISCKON, banking on its vote share of last Lok Sabha polls and the inroads it made during the rural polls of 2018. It is also one of the few seats in the state that the party has ever won.
During the national elections of 1999, BJP's Satyabrata Mookherjee had bagged the seat in alliance with then newly-born Trinamool Congress. He had then become a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and also headed the party in the state.
This time the party has fielded former Indian football team captain Kalyan Chaubey, who is looking to wrest the seat from Trinamool Congress, which has held this constituency for the last decade in a region -- south Bengal -- considered a stronghold of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The constituency is witnessing a four-cornered contest this time.
"The BJP's candidate is an outsider. Had they fielded Jalu babu (as Satyabrata Mookherjee is locally known), the seat would have been a cakewalk for them" said a man in his 50s, unwilling to give his name, sipping tea at a roadside stall outside the district collectorate.
Hearing that, another man going through the day's newspaper raised his head and said, "The BJP has given ticket to someone like Pragya Thakur. People now know everything and see everything. You can't fool them."

The Krishnanagar town and surrounding areas have a significant chunk of Christian population with colonial-era churches dotting the roads. However, the district is Hindu dominated with a small portion of Muslim population.
"It's not about Hindus and Muslims, it's about getting rid of the violence that we have witnessed in the last few years. We have voted for the CPI(M) in the past but now feel that only the BJP can stop the Trinamool," said a shopkeeper at the Dhubulia bus stand.
The CPI(M), however, maintains that the BJP is nowhere in competition as all of it is a "creation of the media" and it is only them who can take on the Trinamool Congress.
"It is a myth that the fight is between the Trinamool and the BJP. People have to understood the mock fight between them. You can see the role Mukul Roy is playing, he was number two in Trinamool and now doing the top job in BJP, does this happen in anywhere?" said CPI(M) candidate Shantanu Jha, a professor of agri-sciences, who is fighting the national polls from the seat for the second time.
He said that his party is reaching out to each and every voter with issues like farm woes, unemployment and industrial slowdown due to demonetisation. "We believe in 'think nationally and act locally'. The issues that the rest of the country is facing is also affecting Krishnanagar."

However, BJP's Chaubey is confident that he will be winning the polls as it is only "the BJP who have the ability to stop the Trinamool Congress".
"People want to get rid of the violence perpetrated by the ruling party and only the BJP can do that. It is not a fight between two parties but for upholding our democratic rights," he said amid chants of 'Jai Shri Ram' as he toured the city on a hoodless car.
As his carcade entered a Muslim-dominated area, men and women came out of their houses to see the BJP candidate and clicked photos with party workers distributing leaflets.
"You can see the enthusiasm about our party here," he said.
The Congress, a marginal player in the district, has fielded Intaj Ali Shah as its candidate here. Shah believes in his chances if free and fair elections are held.
"I will accept whatever the people's mandate is but I want the elections to be free and fair. We have already raised the issue of sensitivity of several booths in Chapra with the Election Commission. I hope they will take care of it," he said.
On the other side, exuding confidence about her victory, Trinamool Congress candidate Mahua Moitra said, "The BJP has never won this seat on their own. They won this seat once with support from Mamata Banerjee. Even their greatest candidate (Satyabrata Mookherjee) was beaten twice by Tapas Paul and CPI(M)'s Jyotirmoyee Sikdar. At the height of Modi wave in 2014, they came third."

She said her taking part in the polls is not about winning but about ensuring greater margin of victory for her party.
In the last Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool Congress's Tapas Paul held on to the seat for second time with about 35 per cent votes, defeating CPI(M)'s Shantanu Jha who got about 29 per cent votes. The BJP got around 26 per cent votes, while the Congress could only manage 6 per cent.
Krishnanagar will be voting in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 29.

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First Published: Apr 27 2019 | 5:20 PM IST

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