Kolkata: Bhabanipur has been witness to a high-voltage campaign for the 30 September bypoll on the assembly seat that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting.
Banerjee, who represented the seat in 2011 and 2016, is up against Bharatiya Janata Party’s Priyanka Tibrewal, a relatively new entrant to the party who was inducted in 2014.
The BJP knows the odds are stacked against Tibrewal. Banerjee is the CM and her party is in power in the state. In the elections earlier this year, the seat was won by the Trinamool Congress before the incumbent resigned to let Mamata contest.
But that has not deterred the BJP from carrying out intensive campaigning of its own.
The BJP flew in Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri Wednesday.
A Sikh, Puri was specially drafted to campaign in Bhabanipur, which has a sizeable Punjabi population. He visited Gurdwara Sant Kutiya the first day, went to the residences where Subhas Chandra Bose and Syama Prasad Mookerjee once lived. He also chatted with morning walkers at Bhabanipur’s famous Balwant dhaba and ate kachori and aloo ki sabzi at the popular Sharma tea stall.
Three days later, the BJP brought in Smriti Irani, the Union Women and Child Development Minister, for campaigning. Irani was involved in the campaign because of her connection to West Bengal — her mother is Bengali and she speaks fluent Bangla.
Irani started her trip by visiting a temple in Hazra and then carried out a door-to-door campaigning, talking to voters in Bangla.
Compared to the BJP’s, the Left’s campaign was a lonely one. Shrijeeb Biswas, the candidate that the Communist Part of India (Marxist) has nominated, could manage to get only nine to ten party workers and volunteers to campaign with him.
The party, which ruled West Bengal for over three decades, appears to be bereft of resources or manpower as Biswas went on a door-to-door campaign with a lone autorickshaw following him, in which a party worker sat with a mic seeking votes for the candidate.
ThePrint’s National Photo Editor Praveen Jain brings glimpses from the election campaigns of Opposition parties in Kolkata.