Kolkata: Siliguri assembly constituency in North Bengal this time will witness a tough fight between the prominent leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Ashok Bhattacharya and Prof. Omprakash Mishra of ruling Trinamool Congress.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded Shankar Ghosh in this constituency.
The former state minister and former Siliguri Mayor Mr Bhattacharya, who had won the seat fifth time from his home turf, Siliguri on a CPI (M) ticket, is the hopeful candidate in this year West Bengal Assembly Elections.
He was elected to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly from Siliguri assembly constituency) as a CPI (M) candidate for the first time in 1991.
He is a five-time MLA of West Bengal Legislative Assembly from Siliguri. He won elections from Siliguri in 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2016.
In 2016, Mr Bhattacharya won the seat by defeating former Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia from Trinamool Congress with a margin of 14072 votes.
In 2011, Rudra Nath Bhattacharya of Trinamool Congress won the seat by defeating Mr Bhattacharya with a margin of 5006 votes.
Siliguri Assembly constituency is falling under the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Raju Bista won from Darjeeling Lok Sabha (MP) seat with a margin of 413443 votes by defeating Amar Singh Rai from Trinamool Congress.
Mr Bhattacharya started his political career as a corporator in Siliguri Municipal Corporation. He became the chairman of Siliguri municipality in 1987 and remained as the chairman till 1991.
In 1996, he became the Minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs in the Left Front government in Bengal under chief minister Jyoti Basu.
He also continued as a cabinet minister under chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee till 2011 when the CPI (M)-led Left Front was defeated by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
In May 2015, Mr Bhattacharya became the Mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation after the Left Front won the municipal election in Siliguri.
Both the CPI(M) and TMC election candidates for the Siliguri Assembly Constituency, Ashok Bhattacharya and Om Prakash Mishra, respectively, released their party’s manifesto here
As Professor Mishra highlighted Mamata Banerjee’s Universal Basic Minimum Programme that finds mention in her party’s manifesto, Mr Bhattacharya has focused on the party’s proposal for the development of Siliguri by demanding national status to the town, and bettering the basic facilities, including a drinking water project.
Professor Mishra also pointed out how his party supremo Mamata Banerjee had maintained ‘promise’ and ‘performance’ in the last 10 years and prepared the manifesto for the next five years by highlighting several unique welfare schemes.
BJP candidate Shankar Ghosh, a communist activist for the last 30 years, has campaigned by adopting the BJP culture.
While CPI(M) candidate Mr Bhattacharya campaigned in a simple manner by visiting narrow lanes and reaching out to the downtrodden and working-class of people under the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Mr Ghosh, a former disciple of Mr Bhattacharya, also met the people, accompanied by Siliguri district organizational president of the BJP Praveen Agarwal and team members, including a group of drummers (dhaki).
The ‘Sanyukta Morcha’ candidate for Siliguri, Mr Bhattacharya said he take all possible initiatives for the development of Siliguri if he was re-elected.
According to him, he would seek approval for a comprehensive drinking water project in the town.
He also alleged that the state government had ignored the proposals for the project.
He said a flyover was necessary at Darjeeling More, Mallaguri More to ease the traffic congestion there.
Mr Bhattacharya also raised the long-pending demand for the completion of the Mahananda Action Plan.
He said the sewerage system of Fuleshwari and Jorapani rivulets could not be started because of noncompletion of the plan.
“Siliguri is an important town not only on the point of its economic and commercial activities but on its strategic location and connectivity. It should be declared as an important national town,” Mr Bhattacharya added.