Poll campaign ends for Sabang by-poll

Kolkata
19 Dec 2017

Campaigning for the by-election to Sabang Assembly constituency, which will be an acid test for both ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Opposition BJP, came to an end at 5 pm today. TMC in its campaign tried to woo the voters to wrest the seat regarded as a Congress stronghold, while for the BJP the result will be an indicator whether the party is able to make inroads and its victory in the just-concluded Gujarat Assembly election will have any impact here.
TMC has fielded Gita Rani Bhunia, wife of former Congress leader Manas Bhunia who had defected to the Mamata Banerjee-led party earlier this year necessitating the by-election. Bhunia had won the seat in last year's Assembly poll in the state. The BJP has nominated Antara Bhattacharya while the Congress has fielded Chiranjib Bhowmick, a local leader. The CPM's Rita Mandal will contest the seat as a Left Front candidate.
The Congress had fought the 2016 Assembly polls in the state in alliance with the CPM-led Left Front and Bhunia had secured 59.70 per cent votes. The TMC had then bagged 36 per cent votes. The BJP candidate had polled only 2.6 per cent votes in the 2016 Assembly poll. A total number of 8 companies of Central paramilitary forces have been deployed for the Sabang by-poll.
Asked about the Opposition's demand for deployment of more paramilitary forces, an Election Commission official here said, "The commission is looking into their demands but nothing has been decided so far. Eight companies have already been deployed," he said. Political analysts feel that TMC will have an advantage with Congress and the Left fighting the by-poll separately. A large section of the CPM's district leaders feel that an alliance with Congress like in the last Assembly election, would have helped both the parties. Although dubbed as a betrayer by his former party Congress, Bhunia expressed confidence and said TMC will win the by-poll. State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has alleged that Bhunia has betrayed the Congress and the people of Sabang for his personal gains. "The people will give him a befitting reply", he said.

Bhunia said, "The people of Sabang constituency know what I have done for them during my tenure as an MLA. The TMC will win by a big margin. Notwithstanding defection of many party leaders to the TMC in the last one year, the Congress is hopeful of retaining the seat. The Congress in its campaign had shown a video where Bhunia is seen attacking the TMC regime and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee before the last year's Assembly election for alleged misrule.
The BJP, which has been making inroads into the state, is also leaving no stone unturned to increase its vote share. "We will win Sabang seat this time. The people of this constituency have seen the double standards of Manas Bhunia and they no longer trust him," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh claimed. (PTI)