Top contest of West Bengal polls 2016: Nayana vs Somen vs Ritesh in Chowringhee
The Chowringhee seat in central Kolkata will see a keen contest between veteran Congress leader Somen Mitra and Nayana Bandyopadhay, the wife of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay and a former TMC MLA from Bowbazar constituency in Kolkata. The BJP has fielded Ritesh Tiwari, who put up a good fight in the 2014 bypoll, this time as well.
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Nayana became the MLA of Chowringhee after winning the by-election in 2014 after the sitting MLA, Shikha Mitra, defected to the Congress. Shikha is the wife of Nayana's current rival Somen.
Date of polling:
Chowringhee, which is constituency No. 162, will go to polling on Wednesday (April 21). The result will be declared on May 19. [Other top contests of polls 2016]
2011 election result:
TMC's Shikha Mitra won this seat defeating her nearest rival Bimal Singh of the RJD by 57,739 votes [her vote share was 71.90 per cent]. The BJP's Shahnawaz Ahmed finished third with 4,799 votes.
2014 by-election result:
TMC's Nayana Bandyopadhyay won the bye-election held in Chowrangee in September 2014 after the resignation of Shikha Mitra who switched over to the Congress. She beat her nearest rival Ritesh Tiwari of the BJP by 14,344 votes. The BJP's votes increased from less than 5,000 in 2011 to almost 24,000 in the bypoll. The Congress's Santosh Kumar Pathak finished third with 23,317 votes.
Nayana Bandyopadhyay (TMC)
Nayana, a former actor who won an election in 2001 on the TMC's ticket from the now-defunct Bowbazar constituency (the TMC had an alliance with the Congress that year), is putting up a hard work this time by campaigning from door to door and telling the voters about the development work the TMC has carried out in the Chowringhee constituency in the last five years.
Though Chowringhee has been under the TMC's control since 2001 and the local residents have lauded the beautification projects undertaken over the past five years but in the wake of the Left-Congress electoral understanding, the Narada sting operation issue and the collapse of an under-construction flyover in the nearby Jorashanko area leading to the death of many people, 46-year-old Nayana's fight could be more than tough.
Somen Mitra (Congress)
A seven-time MLA and one-time MP (from the TMC), veteran Congress leader Somen Mitra is a known figure in Chowringhee constituency area and will go all-out to curb the TMC's domination here. Born in 1943 in Jessore in today's Bangladesh, Mitra entered politics in 1965 and became a renowned Congress leader in quick time.
Popularly called 'Chhorda' [smaller elder brother], Mitra left the Congress in 2008 to float his own Pragatishil Indira Congress and merged it with the TMC in 2009 and went on to win the parliamentary contest from Diamond Harbour constituency.
He left the TMC in 2014 to return to his parent party, the Congress, and is contesting as a candidate of the Congress-Left alliance from Chowringhee this year. Mitra is known to be a strong critic of TMC supremo and state's chief minister Mamata Banerjee despite his joining her party in the past. He also resigned from the MP's post.
He will be keen to bringh Chowringhee, which was once the constituency of Congress chief ministers like Bidhan Chandra Roy and Siddhartha Shankar Ray, back to the Congress's fold.
Ritesh Tiwari (BJP)
Ritesh Tiwari, 43, will look to take it up from where he had left in 2014. Tiwari gave a close fight to Nayana Bandyopadhyay in that bypoll by increasing the BJP's votes by nearly five times and finishing second in a close contest.
Tiwari will hope that the saffron party gains from the twin issues of corruption and the flyover collapse in a nearby constituency as those could particularly affect the non-Bengali-speaking people. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, too, the BJP grabbed 26 per cent of vote-share in the Kolkata North constituency under which the Chowringhee Assembly segment falls, to finish second after the TMC's 36 per cent.
Difficult to predict. This seat will witness a tight triangular contest between the TMC, Left-Congress and BJP and each one will be interested till the last moment on May 19. Still, given the fact that the constituency is an urban one and there is an alliance between the Left and Congress, the anti-TMC votes could be better utilised to impact the final outcome. But that's about it.
Win chances: Somen Mitra 45%, Nayana 40%, Ritesh 15%