Siliguri heavyweights gear up for Bengal Assembly elections
Trinamul’s Gautam Deb and CPM’s Asok Bhattacharya, both heavyweights of Siliguri politics, have started focusing on their respective constituencies with greater vigour as the Bengal Assembly polls draw near.
While Deb is helping Durga Puja committees, Bhattacharya is highlighting development issues to strike a rapport with the electorate.
Tourism minister Deb represents the Dabram-Fulbari constituency. Bhattacharya, also the chairman of the board of administrators of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC), was elected MLA from the town Assembly seat. The two constituencies are contiguous.
Last Saturday, Deb held a meeting with 66 Durga Puja organising committees from his constituency, which have not been recognised by the administration, and assured “all possible assistance.”
Deb’s assurance comes within 24 hours of chief minister Mamata Banerjee announcing financial assistance for puja committees.
The Dabgrma-Fulbari MLA also seems eager to send out a clear message that he is ready to provide full support to puja organisers of his constituency irrespective of whether they are recognised by the administration.
“This meeting is significant as during the last Lok Sabha election, Trinamul trailed BJP by 80,000 votes from the minister’s constituency,” said an observer.
The minister did not talk about “financial assistance” to the media but added that he would provide all possible support needed to organise the puja.
Deb said many of the pujas were being organised by women groups for more than 10 years now. “Considering the present pandemic, it may not be possible for many of them to get necessary ‘go ahead’ from different departments. I have promised all assistance so that they don’t have to face any difficulties to organise the puja,” Deb said after the meeting.
Many believe that following the rise of the BJP in north Bengal — the saffron party won seven of the eight Lok Sabha seats of the region in 2019 — an assurance for the smooth conduct of Durga Puja might be a calculated strategy.
Bhattacharya, on the other hand, announced that his party workers would hit the seats on October 3 to highlight a number of issues including the alleged “non-cooperation” of the state government in improving civic services.
“We are organising the rally at Siliguri keeping in mind the upcoming Assembly election and civic elections,” said Bhattacharya.
Siliguri is among the few seats where the Left Front is relatively strong in the state.
Playing the development card, Bhattacharya alleged that proposals such as comprehensive drinking water project and improving drainage system in the SMC areas were repeatedly ignored by the state government.
“A scam in Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority also needs to be probed properly. These are some of the issues that we will highlight before the residents of Siliguri,” said Bhattacharya.