Purulia, West Bengal, Apr 30 (GCCurrentAffairs) The electioneering atmosphere in this township of West Bengal is surcharged with talk of violence.
In last one year, in major incidents three BJP workers were killed, their bodies hung on trees and scores were injured.
Electioneering is also often punctuated with ‘anti-Pakistan’ slogans as locals have great admiration for men in uniform – the forces. The saffron party believes there is a strong ‘pro Narendra Modi wave’.
In contrast, the Trinamool Congress leaders and supporters say the ‘mood’ is in favour of Mamata Didi (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee).
The protagonists among the Communists block also do not remain silent either.
“Development is something that always has takers in our constituency,” says Niloy Mukherjee, CPI-M district general secretary.
However, the Congress version is slightly different. The party nominee Nepal Mahato, sitting legislator from Baghmundi blames Mamata Banerjee regime for bringing in “biporjoy (utter failure and destruction)” in the life of Bengalis.
For Congress the issue here is ‘non performance’ of Trinamool dispensation and corruption.
“Besides corruption related to Sharada, Narada and Rose Valley, the entire political and administrative set up is clouded by Syndicate, extra constitutional toll taxes and Coal and Sand Mafia. The crisis is huge,” he says.
He readily endorses the BJP charge that several saffron party workers have been attacked by Didi’s party men. “The reason is money, illegal earning and mafia involvement,” he says.
Other Congress leaders also say that not only Purulia, even in the rest of the state there is a virtual ‘police raj’.
“They have created a dangerous thing called police volunteers. This is dangerous because it gives legitimacy to goondaism of Trinamool Congress,” says Jishu Das, a local Congress supporter.
On the other hand, he cites hospitals, schools and other local administration departments – each place is ‘under staffed’.
“At the state level we can say about 70 per cent of office positions in bureaucracy at the middle and lower levels are vacant. The state apparently does not have finance to fund the salaries. The administration has either collapsed or is standstill. But the Chief Minister is going around claiming votes in the name of development,” says Mr Mahato.
Even as the Trinamool Congress has strong presence and BJP improved its vote share in last year’s panchayat polls, the Congress too has its bastions.
Assembly segment wise break ups under the parliamentary constituency, the Purulia Assembly seat in 2016 was won by Sudip Kumar Mukherjee of Congress and Nepal Mahato (also Congress) had won from Baghmundi.
The remaining four Assembly seats Manbazar, Joypur, Balarampur and Para were won by Trinamool Congress.
Hence, without doubt BJP faces an uphill task and Congress cannot be underestimated either.
A large number of citizens say BJP has an advantage for Lok Sabha polls.
Pandit Rajesh Tiwari of Dorji Para in Purulia says, “As far as Lok Sabha polls are concerned, there is pro-Modi wave”.
The Congress knows it has support base and thus it can fight it out well in Purulia.
However, it is also true that in the event there is a pro-Modi mood – at least in popular perception, there is an apprehension that a ‘large number of Congress workers and supporters’ may shift allegiance to the saffron party.
Prime Minister Modi’s hardliner nationalist image, of course, will be a factor on this.
However, a retired school teacher Amalendu Mukherjee dismisses such contentions and maintains that the Trinamool Congress will retain the seat quite easily.