Kolkata, April 29: The Assembly election in West Bengal is set to witness its biggest fight tomorrow when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will lock horns with former Union minister Deepa Dasmunsi in Bhabanipur.
In short, this battle has been termed as "Didi vs Boudi" since Deepa, wife for ailing heavyweight Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, is popularly called Boudi which means sister-in-law. And Mamata Banerjee, as we all know, is known as Didi (elder sister). [2011 results in 53 seats going to polls on April 30]
This is perhaps the first time that Bengal will see such a high-profile contest between two women candidates. Banerjee, however, has contested against women opponents in the past and also lost once to a woman rival---Malini Bhattacharya of the CPI(M)---in 1989. [Top contests: Mamata vs Deppa vs Chandra Bose]
That is the only loss that Banerjee has ever faced in an election till date. [Banerjee has lost only 1 election till date]
Deepa is not giving up an inch against her powerful opponent
This year, Deepa, known to be a staunch critic of Mamata Banerjee, has refused to let go an inch against her powerful opponent. Deepa, who was nominated against Banerjee much later and replaced Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra, has tried to make use of every issue which has added to the ruling TMC's concerns---be it Saradha chit-fund scam and Narada sting operation.
Banerjee, who won from this seat in a by-election in 2011 after the TMC came to power, has also tried to give as much time as possible to her own constituency for she has been criss-crossing the state canvassing support for the rest of her party's 293 candidates. [For the first time, Mamata has no CPI(M) rival]
She, however, has not covered all eight wards of Kolkata that fall under her constituency while Deepa has covered each of them. Other leaders of TMC were also seen reaching out to the voters in the ansence of Banerjee, which proves that the ruling party is not taking Saturday's fight lightly. [Top issues of Bengal polls 2016]
Both Mamata and Deepa are aware of the non-Bengali speaking voters in the constituency; the BJP did well in this segment in 2014 LS election
Both the TMC and the Left-Congress alliance are aware of the fact that the BJP did well in this Assembly segment in the 2014 Lok Sabha election owing to a large concentration of non-Bengali speaking population, including Gujaratis, and both have engaged with that section as much as possible to ensure that the third force in the fray, the saffron party, doesn't gain. The BJP has fielded Chandra Kumar Bose, the grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in this constituency.
Deepa has also visited at least 20,000 houses in the constituency during her campaign. She was also seen meeting and greeting people who go out for morning-walks as well as sitting with supporters of both the Congress and Left, who have reached an electoral-understanding this year.
The TMC, however, is confident of their supremo bagging yet another election in style. "Whatever is being said and heard will have little impact on the ground," said one of Banerjee's brother.
The Bhabanipur constituency has a total of 2.02 lakh voters.