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BJP civic challenge for Deepa

Deepa Das Munshi

Siliguri, May 19: The Lok Sabha polling figures in North Dinajpur have revealed that the BJP got leads in all the civic wards in Islampur and was a close second to the Congress in Kaliaganj, both of which go to municipal polls this June.

The Congress holds both the municipalities. But party candidate Deepa Das Munshi lost the Raiganj Lok Sabha seat — of which both civic areas are a part — to the CPM’s Mohammad Salim by a wafer-thin difference of 1,356 votes.

In Kaliaganj, which has 17 wards, the BJP led in two seats and secured second position in 15. The Congress posted leads in 13 seats, while Trinamul and the CPM got a lead in one seat each. The Congress secured 11,463 votes in the 13 Kaliaganj wards, followed by the BJP with 8,019 votes.

In Islampur, the BJP secured lead in all 17 wards of the municipality with 15,291 votes. The Congress got 6,214 votes.

Deepa had said the reason for her defeat was the Modi “wave”.

“On the polling day, we could feel the undercurrent of the BJP across the Raiganj seat and after the results came, our apprehensions were proved correct. It is true that in the civic areas of Islampur and Kaliaganj, the BJP has done well,” Deepa said over phone from Delhi today.

“We are, however, determined to retain both these municipalities. I will shortly reach Raiganj, speak to local and district leaders, and launch an intensive campaign in each of the wards of these two civic bodies to garner more support for the Congress,” she added.

Islampur and Kaliaganj, both in North Dinajpur district, have several resident traders, mostly oil mill owners, though not all are Hindi-speaking. Both also have a good chunk of minority votes, which went to the Left.

Sources in the Congress said people seemed to have voted for change, fed up with Deepa’s one-point agenda of bringing an AIIMS-like hospital to Raiganj, though the constituency lacks infrastructure such as good roads.

Another reason for Deepa’s defeat could be Trinamul’s move to field Deepa’s brother-in-law Pabitra Ranjan Das Munshi. His presence in the fray divided the votes of loyalists of the Das Munshi family.

In the Islampur Assembly segment, the BJP got a lead of 2,324votes over Trinamul. The MLA from Islampur is Trinamul’s Abdul Karim Chowdhury.

In South Dinajpur, where civic polls are due in Gangarampur in June, Trinamul leaders claimed the party had secured a lead over the Left in all 18 civic wards. The Left runs the municipality in this town.