CPI(M) state secy Salim's candidature brings Murshidabad LS seat to limelight

Murshidabad in West Bengal is known for election-related violence but gains importance this Lok Sabha polls as CPI(M) fields Mohammed Salim. Sitting MP Abu Taher Khan sees BJP's Gouri Shankar Ghosh as main rival. Violence is an issue, especially during panchayat polls, in this historically significant yet backward area. Muslim-majority seat making headlines.

PTI | Murshidabad | Updated: 05-04-2024 10:21 IST | Created: 05-04-2024 10:21 IST
CPI(M) state secy Salim's candidature brings Murshidabad LS seat to limelight
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A relatively backward area from where news of violence is reported during elections, West Bengal's Murshidabad constituency has attained significance this Lok Sabha polls with the CPI(M) fielding its state secretary Mohammed Salim.

Sitting MP and Trinamool Congress candidate Abu Taher Khan, however, did not attach much significance to Salim as a poll rival, maintaining that his main opponent is BJP's Gouri Shankar Ghosh, the MLA from Murshidabad assembly segment.

All three contestants agree that violence is an issue in this central Bengal constituency in the district of Murshidabad, but feel that it will not impact the Lok Sabha elections, maintaining that such activities are more prevalent during panchayat polls.

Violence and deaths were reported in the district in all panchayat polls since 2003.

With a glorious past when it was the capital of Bengal till the British defeated Nawab Siraj–ud–Daula in the battle of Plassey in 1757, Murshidabad is now a relatively backward area, though it holds prominence in handicrafts, silk and muslin work. But it also has a significant population who work as migrant labourers in various parts of the country.

Murshidabad constituency which shares borders with Bangladesh has seven assembly segments, of which six - Bhagabangola, Raninagar, Murshidabad, Hariharpara, Domkal and Jalangi - are in Murshidabad district, while Karimpur is in Nadia district.

Of these, except for the Murshidabad segment, all the other six assembly seats were won by the TMC in the 2021 elections.

The CPI(M) held the seat from 1980 till 2004 when the Congress won and emerged victorious again in 2009. In the polls of 2014 and 2019, CPI(M) and TMC bagged Murshidabad.

Murshidabad constituency has not really been a stronghold of any of these parties since the early 2000s, which is a likely reason for violence during polls, according to experts.

The CPI(M), in alliance with the Congress, which were foes earlier in the state, is taking on the TMC and the BJP in this election in West Bengal.

The CPI(M) state secretary, who is also a Politburo member of the party, said the local populace having to work as migrant labourers, CAA and corruption allegations against some TMC leaders were the major issues. ''Two anti-incumbencies are working jointly, one against the BJP and the other against the TMC,'' he told PTI, asserting that the Left-Congress alliance will reap its dividends.

Maintaining that the CAA is raked up whenever elections come, he claimed that an attempt to create a binary by the BJP and TMC over the issue will ''boomerang'' on them this time. ''History does not repeat itself,'' he said.

The CPI(M)-led Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years at a stretch till 2011, had returned empty-handed in West Bengal in the 2019 general elections.

In 2019, the TMC had won in Murshidabad with flying colours, bagging 41.57 per cent of votes, while the Congress got 26 per cent, BJP 17.05 per cent and CPI(M) came fourth with 12.44 per cent.

Exuding confidence to win the seat for the second consecutive term, TMC candidate Abu Taher Khan, who joined the Mamata Banerjee-led party from Congress before the 2019 elections after resigning as an MLA, claimed that Salim is not a factor in Murshidabad.

''Mohammed Salim may be an asset for his party, but in Murshidabad, he has no role,'' Khan, who had won from Naoda assembly segment for four consecutive terms from 2001 on a Congress ticket and was that party's Murshidabad district president also, told PTI.

He claimed that CPI(M) found a Muslim-majority seat for Salim.

According to the 2011 census, Murshidabad district has over 66 per cent Muslim population and 33 per cent Hindu population.

Rejecting the allegation, Salim said that both the TMC and the BJP were making the same claim. ''We don't see religion when we select candidates,'' he said, stating that he had first won a Lok Sabha election in 2004 from the now non-existent Kolkata North-East constituency following delimitation, which was not a Muslim-majority constituency.

He won for the second time from Raiganj seat in 2014. He lost from there five years later.

BJP nominee Gouri Shankar Ghosh claimed that notification of the CAA will not have any negative impact on the prospects of the saffron party in the constituency.

Though there were widespread violent protests across Murshidabad district in 2019 after the CAA bill was passed in Parliament, no such reaction was reported after it was notified on March 11.

Claiming that the TMC and CPI(M) were trying to mislead people over the issue, he asserted that such attempts would not give them any leverage.

About poll violence, the BJP candidate claimed it occurs when elections are held under the supervision of state authorities like the panchayat elections. ''We have seen this in the 2023, 2018 and 2013 local body polls, even though strife was much less in the 2019 or 2014 general elections,'' said Ghosh, exuding confidence to win. He said that the people, irrespective of their religion, are now aware of schemes.

''People now know what is being given by the Centre and what by the state and they cannot be fooled by the TMC,'' Ghosh said.

He claimed that the migrant labourers from the constituency, who are coming home for Eid, say that they want job opportunities in their own area so that they can live with families.

''People are saying they have seen all the other parties, now they want BJP for development,'' he said.

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

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