TMC Faces Tough Challenge from BJP in Arambagh, Outcome Hinges on Key Factors

Arambagh, an SC-reserved constituency in West Bengal's Hooghly district, faces issues of development and recurrent floods. Despite TMC's past victories, BJP's gains in recent assembly polls signal a competitive upcoming battle. The TMC has replaced its two-time MP with Mitali Bag, while the BJP has nominated Arup Kanti Digar. Digar alleges neglect and poor flood management, while Bag claims the TMC government has implemented various schemes benefiting the constituency. The CPI(M) hopes to regain support amidst dissatisfaction with TMC's performance. Arambagh's rural composition and proximity to the Sandeshkhali incident could impact election outcomes. Political analysts predict a close race, with the TMC facing a challenge due to development concerns and the school job recruitment scam. The BJP and CPI(M) aim to capitalize on this discontent.

PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 03-05-2024 09:29 IST | Created: 03-05-2024 09:29 IST
TMC Faces Tough Challenge from BJP in Arambagh, Outcome Hinges on Key Factors
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Development, or the alleged lack of it, and recurrent floods in every monsoon are the key issues of the erstwhile red bastion Arambagh Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal's Hooghly district, an SC-reserved political hotspot of the state in terms of law and order volatility.

The TMC may have won the 2014 and 2019 editions of parliamentary polls in Arambagh, but the party's steady decline in vote share over the last two editions coupled with BJP trumping Trinamool in four of Arambagh's six assembly seats in Hooghly in the 2021 state polls are signs of an upcoming battle which Mamata Banerjee's party may find tougher to tide past than what appears on paper.

That's perhaps why Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Arambagh to kick start his poll campaigns in Bengal and addressed one of the poll season's first public meetings on March 1 from where he slammed the Mamata Banerjee government for ''betraying the people of the state''.

The state's ruling dispensation has replaced its two-time MP Aparupa Poddar with Hooghly Zilla Parishad member Mitali Bag who debuts in parliamentary polls. The BJP nominated Arup Kanti Digar, also a first-timer.

People, especially farmers, are in deep distress because of recurrent floods, Digar told PTI.

''Floods are a routine affair in places like Pursura, Goghat, Khanakul and Chandrakona during July-August every year. The TMC government has grossly misutilised Central funds to undertake measures like dredging of water bodies and building barrages while offering no more than lip service to the Ghatal master plan to control flood damages in neighbouring Paschim Medinipur,'' he said.

He also accused the state government of discriminating against the area by neglecting the creation of employment opportunities for youths.

The panchayats withheld disbursal of central funds for several welfare schemes of the Narendra Modi government among the poor, the BJP candidate further alleged.

Rubbishing Digar's narrative, his TMC counterpart claimed that women and youths of the constituency benefitted from various schemes implemented in the state by the Mamata Banerjee government.

Bag said, ''The less BJP talks about Arambagh's flood, the better. Despite constant pleas by our government and our MPs, the BJP-run Centre is yet to act on the Ghatal master plan or the Mayurakshi and Keleghai flood control projects.'' ''An integrated plan is needed to prevent flooding of the basin-like area during monsoon, but the Centre's discriminatory attitude has proved to be the stumbling block in all these years,'' she alleged.

The CPI(M) which had won Arambagh ten times before 2014 has fielded Biplab Maitra, a primary school teacher.

A district leader of the CPI(M) stated that the party was virtually wiped out from the seat over the last decade on account of ''terror unleashed by the TMC''.

The CPI(M) bagged 1,00,520 votes in 2019, which was less than seven per cent of the votes polled.

This time, however, the situation is different, he claimed.

''The young generation, particularly the unemployed graduates, are upset with the TMC for not only failing in industrialization but also turning the state's education sector into a mess by perpetrating job scams of unprecedented levels. We hope to do well if the polling is free and fair,'' the CPI(M) leader said.

Arambagh is home to vast swathes of agrarian land and comprises mostly rural assembly pockets like Haripal, Tarakeswar, Pursurah, Arambagh, Goghat, Khanakul. It also includes Chandrakona, the only assembly segment falling in the neighbouring district of Paschim Medinipur.

Election observers are of the opinion that the fight between the TMC and BJP is likely to go down to the wire this time around.

''The TMC seems to be on a bit of a sticky wicket this time due to grassroots grievances on development in the area and recurrent flooding. The school job recruitment scam is likely to have an impact as well. A sizeable number of young teaching job aspirants hail from Arambagh in particular and Hooghly district in general,'' academic and Pursura resident Ashis Bera said.

Bera, a political science professor at Burdwan University, stated that the Sandeshkhali incident may also cast a shadow on the prospects of the ruling dispensation.

''There is a strong undercurrent of support for Mamata Banerjee among women. It needs to be seen if her social welfare schemes can tilt the balance in her favour. Arambagh is also a microcosm of the entire southern part of West Bengal. Hence the trend here can largely reflect on the ruling party's poll fortunes in the other so-called 'safe seats' of the party south of the Farakka barrage,'' he said.

Digar said that Banerjee's decision to remove Aparupa Poddar, the two-time winner from Arambagh, from the poll fray shows everything is not well within the TMC. She claimed factional fights within the TMC will adversely impact its electoral prospects.

''TMC won by only 1,142 votes last time. Keep watching which way the wind blows when the votes are counted on June 4,'' the BJP nominee said.

Bag, however, dismissed her opponent's claims and stated that such averments were mere political ploys which had little truth in them..

Arambagh will go to polls in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections on May 20.

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

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