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In Trinamul triumph, a BJP niggle
Anubrata eye on rival surge in four towns

Anubrata Mondal

Suri, May 18: The BJP has got leads in four Trinamul-run municipalities going to polls in Birbhum within a year, causing concern to district Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal who has decided to show-cause party leaders in the area.

The municipalities where the BJP got more votes than Trinamul are Sainthia, Rampurhat, Suri and Dubrajpur, all under the Birbhum Lok Sabha seat. While the Sainthia municipality will go to polls in July this year, elections to the other three civic bodies would be held by next year.

In Sainthia, the BJP led by 8,217 votes, while in Rampurhat, the party was ahead of Trinamul by 8,331 votes. In Suri and Dubrajpur, the BJP bagged 2,430 and 934 votes more than the ruling party, respectively.

The BJP’s performance in two plains segments under the Darjeeling seat — Matigara-Naxalbari and Phansidewa — has also worried Trinamul, as party candidate Bhaichung Bhutia has got a lead of just 651 votes in the plains. The former football captain lost to S.S. Ahluwalia of the BJP by over 1.99 lakh votes.

Yesterday, north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb was “hauled up” by Mamata Banerjee for Trinamul’s poor showing in the Darjeeling seat, sources said, adding that the chief minister asked for a booth-wise break-up of votes in Siliguri’s rural areas.

According to sources in Birbhum, the four municipal areas where the BJP got more votes than Trinamul have a mixed population that do not mainly comprise the trading community or a Hindi-speaking population, both considered the BJP’s vote bank in Bengal. Of them, Sainthia has about 30 per cent businessmen because of a railway yard where mustard seeds, wheat, pulses and rice are unloaded.

A senior Trinamul leader in Birbhum said: “It’s indeed a matter of concern. The BJP emerging as the number one in the four municipalities that go to polls in a year is not something people had thought of here. Anubrata Mondal has decided to show-cause the party leaders whom he had instructed to ensure leads.”

A Trinamul councillor in Rampurhat, who sources said was under the leadership’s scanner for the ruling party’s failure to outnumber the BJP votes in the four areas, blamed the “Modi wave”.

“What can I say? We have no explanation why the BJP got the leads. May be it is the pro-Narendra Modi wave that worked in the urban areas.… We had worked hard on campaigning,” the Trinamul councillor said.

In other parts of Birbhum district, Trinamul has performed considerably well. Satabdi Roy, the party candidate for the Birbhum Lok Sabha seat, won by a margin of about 67,000 votes. Anupam Hazra, the party’s Bolpur nominee, bagged the seat by over 2.3 lakh votes.

Asked about the BJP’s performance in the four municipal areas, Mondal said the matter would be analysed later.

“We are happy with the Lok Sabha results. The BJP’s performance in the four municipalities will be taken up later for discussion,” said Mondal, credited by party leaders across the state for ensuring Trinamul’s victory in Birbhum and described as a “good organiser” by Mamata Banerjee.

Sources said Mondal was annoyed mainly with the Trinamul town committee presidents.

The BJP’s vote share in the Birbhum Lok Sabha seat was 18.47 per cent this time, up from 4.62 in 2009. In the Bolpur seat, the vote share in 2014 was 15.13 per cent, compared with 6.49 five years ago.