Beyond Bhabanipur
THE WEEK|October 03, 2021
Mamata Banerjee wants to not only win Bhabanipur, but also weaken the BJP in West Bengal
RABI BANERJEE

THE BATTLE OF BHABANIPUR is no mere byelection. On September 30, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will take on the BJP’s Priyanka Tibrewal in a contest with much context. Banerjee had lost in Nandigram in this year’s assembly elections and needs to win a bypoll by November 5 to keep her office.

Worryingly for Mamata, the Central Bureau of Investigation is probing the post-poll violence in the state, and the role of Trinamool leaders in it. Also, the agency recently interrogated a state minister in a Ponzi scam case, while the Enforcement Directorate summoned Mamata’s nephew and party MP Abhishek Banerjee, along with wife, Rujira, to investigate their alleged role in a coal scam.

As the ground heats up before the clash, THE WEEK visited the constituency to gauge the voters’ mood. In the Chakraberia locality, where people are tightlipped about the election, Sunil Yadav, a Bihari clothes seller, said: “Ask me when my stuffwill sell rather than asking me about my vote. I have no idea where I would vote. There is no business happening, even though Durga Puja is around the corner. No one is bothered about us, the common people.”

His footpath stall stood near a big clock shop, whose Marwari owner was not too enthused about the poll. “I have not decided [if I will vote],” he said, turning his back.

Near Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, just behind Kalighat fire station, sweets shop owner Swapan Sarkar answered the question with a laugh. He said he was not part of the Bhabanipur constituency. He belonged to the bordering Tollygunge seat, which had re-elected the Trinamool’s Aroop Biswas instead of Babul Supriyo—who was then with the BJP. “If I were a Bhabanipur voter today, I would have voted against Mamata Banerjee for taking him into the party,” he said.

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