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Constituency watch: As BJP aims to retain Bengal's Jhargram, Trinamool banks on author's appeal

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Constituency watch: As BJP aims to retain Bengal's Jhargram, Trinamool banks on author's appeal

Kolkata, April 24 (Ajit Weekly News) The electoral battle between BJP and Trinamool Congress is going to be interesting this time in the tribal-dominated Jhargram Lok Sabha constituency, where BJP candidate Kumar Hembram bagged a surprise victory in 2019 though with a thin margin of little over 11,000 votes.

However, this time BJP has replaced Hembram with Dr Pranat Tudu, who till recently was a government doctor attached to the Jhargram Medical College & Hospital. He resigned from his government services to contest the polls and the BJP is banking on his popularity in the constituency as a doctor to retain its seat.

On the other hand, Trinamool Congress’ masterstroke too is in the choice of its candidate this time. To avoid infighting within the party over the choice of candidate in Jhargram, the ruling party has fielded Padma Shri award-winning Santhali playwright, and author Kalipada Soren, who is popular as Kherwal Soren.

A winner of the Padma Shri award in 2022, Soren is popular for his literary works in the constituency, especially among the people with tribal backgrounds who contribute to a major percentage of the total voters in this Lok Sabha seat.

Also in the poll fray is CPI(M)’s young face, Sonamani Murmu (Tudu) who has previously worked as an anchor in Bengali, Hindi and Santhali languages with Prasar Bharati. She also runs her own homestay business in the area. She is often termed as ‘Pad Woman’ in the area moving from door to door, enlightening the local women about the essentiality of the use of sanitary napkins.

What makes Trinamool Congress confident of winning Jhargram this time is its performance in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections. In 2021, Trinamool Congress candidates were elected from all seven Assembly constituencies under the Jhargram Lok Sabha.

In fact, in the post-poll analysis after the 2021 polls, the state BJP leadership too admitted that the results were unexpected for them.

The key issue for this constituency traditionally had been abject poverty and lack of development. The Left Wing Extremists at one point in time managed to strengthen their bases riding on the twin issues of poverty and lack of development. However, the constituency has a tourist attraction because of its natural beauty combining jungles with hillocks.

Jhargram had been traditionally a red bastion giving CPI(M) ten consecutive victories from 1977 to 2009. Even amid the massive Trinamool Congress wave in 2009, CPI(M)’s Dr Pulin Bihari Baske got elected from that constituency by a margin of around 2.9 lakh votes.

However, the trend reverted in 2014, when Trinamool Congress’ Uma Soren got elected by a margin of around 3.5 lakh votes.

The trend changed again in 2019 with BJP’s Kumar Hembram getting elected though with an extremely thin margin. So this time the situation is “do or die” for both Trinamool Congress and BJP.

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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