Top contest of West Bengal polls 2016: Roopa Ganguly vs Laxmi Ratan Shukla
Actor-politician Roopa Ganguly, remembered for her portraying the role of Draupadi in BR Chopra's Mahabharat, will contest this year's West Bengal Assembly elections from Howrah North constituency. The BJP candidate will take on former national cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla, another first-timer who has been fielded by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in what is being seen as a top contest in this election.
Date of polling:
Howrah Uttar (constituency No. 170) will go to polling on April 25 when the fifth phase (technically fourth) of the polls will be held. The result will be declared on May 19.
2011 election result:
TMC's Ashoke Ghosh defeated CPI(M)'s Nemai Samanta by 19,610 votes in the last Assembly election from Howrah Uttar. The BJP's Umesh Rai finished third with around 16,500 votes. The TMC's vote-share was 49.25 per cent while the CPI(M) got 33.54 per cent. The BJP's share was over 13 per cent.
Roopa Ganguly (BJP)
Roopa Ganguly, will turn 50 this November, is contesting an election for the first time. The BJP is banking on the actor-politician's star power and reportedly denied her a ticket in Kolkata, particularly against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, so that a defeat doesn't give her "promising" political career a setback. The BJP leadership also said that it believes in Roopa's leadership skills and is able to take the party forward in the state.
The saffron party feels the former National Award-winner actor has a crowd-pulling ability which will help her against the TMC opponent and also bring together the BJP's cadre in the four other states in the state of Howrah.
Roopa, who had campaigned for the BJP on a motorcycle during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, is known to be a strong critic of Mamata Banerjee and has also reportedly faced attack from the ruling party over holding rallies and party programmes.
When asked about Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Roopa said she was shocked to see someone standing by the TMC chief, particularly in the wake of various issues ranging from law-and-order situation to scams.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla (Trinamool Congress)
Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who played three one-day international matches for India in 1999 and also in the IPL, retired from cricket last year. He met Mamata Banerjee in January, soon after retiring and joined the TMC in the presence of Banerjee in February and was given an election ticket from Howrah North. The 34-year-old, who is contesting a first-ever election, however, said he shares a good personal equation with Roopa Ganguly and he is contesting the Assembly election from Howrah North because the party supremo wanted him to.
The battle in Howrah North is attractive because it involves two celebrity candidates who are otherwise contesting their maiden elections. However, Shukla has two advantages over Roopa. First, he is contesting for the TMC, which is still a more powerful force than the BJP in Bengal and secondly, he is a local man and can prove to be more useful in attracting the votes compared to Roopa, whose candidature gave rise to dissent in the BJP.
Shukla 60% Roopa 40%