CPM fields Halim's daughter-in-law from Ballygunge
The CPM has decided to field educator, rights activist and motivational speaker Saira Shah Halim from the Ballygunge Assembly seat which goes to polls on April 12.
Former SFI state leader Partha Mukherjee has been fielded from Asansol against the Trinamul nominee, former Union minister from BJP and cone star Shatrughan Sinha
Left Front chairman Biman Basu announced the names in Calcutta on Wednesday, amidst the party's 26th state conference that would see a change of leadership.
The CPM had fielded Saira’s husband, physician Fuad Halim, from the Ballygunge seat in the 2021 Assembly elections. The sitting Trinamul MLA and state minister Subrata Mukherjee polled 71 per cent of the votes, while Halim finished third with just six per cent of the votes.
After the death of Mukherjee in October last year, arrested months before his death for his alleged involvement in the Narada bribery sting operation case, a bypoll had to be held
Fuad’s father and Saira’s father-in-law, the late Hashim Abdul Halim, was the longest-serving Speaker in any of the state Assemblies. He was an expert in constitutional law.
With a sizeable minority population in the Ballygunge segment, the nomination of Supriyo, a former BJP MLA, has not gone down well with a segment of the minority population, who are already fuming at the murder of student-activist Anis Khan.
Seven of the wards in Ballygunge Assembly have more than 60 per cent Muslim population, out of which ward 60 has 95 per cent Muslim voters and wards 61 and 64 have 75 per cent each.
A section of the Muslim voters is upset with the Trinamul for fielding Supriyo barely four years since Asansol’s first riots in 26 years. Supriyo was then the local MP and a junior minister in the Narendra Modi government.
Having wrested the seat in 2014 on a BJP ticket when Narendra Modi had famously screamed, "I want Babul (from Asansol)" in Hindi, the BJP and its fraternal organisations witnessed a rapid surge in their numbers. Regular processions before Ram Navami, never a major festival in Bengal, with provocative slogans led to full-scale rioting that claimed the life of the 16-year-old son of the Imam of the 200-year old Noorani Mosque. The Mamata Banerjee government, following the riots that claimed the lives of four others, had barred Supriyo from entering his own Lok Sabha constituency. The same Trinamul has fielded Supriyo from a constituency with a sizeable Muslim voting population.
In the Lok Sabha seat that Supriyo vacated after joining the Trinamul, the CPM has fielded former SFI leader Partha Mukherjee, a well-known face in the industrial belt of Asansol-Ranigunj-Jamuria.
The Congress is still undecided on its course of action, whether it will field a candidate that could eat into the Opposition votes, or support the Left with which it had a pre-poll alliance in the 2021 Assembly polls.
The other alliance partner, Indian Secular Front, too has not taken a decision.
“We will decide on it soon,” said Naushad Siddiqui, the sole MLA from the ISF in the Bengal Assembly.