Constituency Watch: It can be anybody’s game in three-cornered contest in Murshidabad

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Kolkata, March 30 (IANS) It can be anybody’s game in a three-cornered contest in the Murshidabad Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal that will go to the polls in Phase 3 on May 7.

The contest in Murshidabad this time has become significant after the CPI(M) fielded the party’s state Secretary Md Salim from the seat once considered a red bastion.

While the Trinamool Congress has re-nominated its sitting MP Abu Taher Khan, who is the first-ever Trinamool MP from Murshidabad, the BJP has fielded Gouri Shankar Ghosh from the minority-dominated Lok Sabha seat. Ghosh is the sitting BJP legislator from the Murshidabad Assembly constituency.

What might go in Salim’s favour this time is the fact that there won’t be any division in the anti-BJP and anti-Trinamool votes as happened in the four-cornered contest in 2019 when the Trinamool, BJP, Left Front, and the Congress contested separately.

The Trinamool took advantage of the split in anti-BJP votes in 2019, winning by a comfortable margin as it bagged 41.57 per cent of the total votes polled. The Congress finished second with 26.44 per cent vote share, followed by the BJP at 17.05 per cent, and the CPI(M) at 12.44 per cent.

Salim’s biggest hope this time is based on the probable combination of two factors. The first is the successful consolidation of the dedicated vote banks of the Congress and the Left Front in Murshidabad, and the second is the revival of a small percentage of erstwhile Congress or CPI(M) voters, who shifted to the BJP in 2019.

On the other hand, the silver lining for the BJP can be the combination of two parallel factors — division in minority votes, and total consolidation of Hindu votes.

And in both cases, the battle will only become more tough for Trinamool’s Abu Taher Khan.

Another disadvantage that Khan might face is the infighting in Trinamool in Murshidabad district, where factionalism is rampant over the rivalry between two factions, one led by Khan and the other by the party’s district president (organisation), Shaoni Sinha Roy.

Murshidabad had been a red bastion from 1980 to 2005, handing seven victories in a row to the CPI(M).

Syed Masudal Hossain was the five-time CPI(M) Lok Sabha member from Murshidabad between 1980 and 1998, followed by his comrade Moinul Hassan, who won twice from the seat in 1998 and 1999.

However, the equation changed in 2005 when Congress candidate Abdul Mannan Hossain won from Murshidabad, and got re-elected in 2009.

The electoral wheel again took a reverse turn in 2017 when CPI(M)’s Badaruddoza Khan got elected from Murshidabad. However, in 2019, the ruling Trinamool Congress opened its account in Murshidabad with Abu Taher Khan scripting a comfortable victory.

With 15 lakh eligible voters, the Murshidabad constituency has earned a negative tag for recording maximum cases of poll-related violence, especially during the panchayat elections which are not monitored by the Election Commission of India.

Even during the panchayat polls held in 2023, maximum casualties were reported from Murshidabad.



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