It’s firebrand leader versus royal legacy in Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat

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Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat Amrita Roy Mahua Moitra

Amrita Roy (Left); Mahua Moitra (Right)

Krishnanagar: The political contest in West Bengal's Krishnanagar has intensified as the Lok Sabha constituency gears up for a closely fought election between two prominent candidates embodying divergent narratives of the burgeoning middle class and royal aristocracy.


At the forefront is TMC leader Mahua Moitra, the former MP from the constituency, known for her impassioned speeches and vocal opposition to the Narendra Modi government.

A fiery orator, Moitra has risen to national prominence during her time in Parliament for her compelling criticism of the BJP-led NDA government, but her removal from the Lok Sabha due to allegations in the cash-for-query scandal has embroiled her in a controversy, though she believes her "victory will be the fitting response." Challenging Moitra is BJP's Amrita Roy, the Rajmata of the Krishnanagar royal family, whose candidacy has injected a tinge of royalty into the electoral fray.

Roy, married to the family of Maharaja Krishnachandra Roy, is revered as the "Rani Maa" or Queen Mother by the constituency, carrying a legacy rich in tradition and aristocracy, despite the family’s historical associations with the British in the Battle of Plassey in 1757.


“The electoral battle between Moitra and Roy symbolises a clash between the modern-day or new middle class and the traditional aristocrat, with advantage Moitra, as there is a victimhood card at play,” political scientist Maidul Islam told PTI.

Moitra, who left her high-flying career as an investment banker at JPMorgan Chase abroad to venture into politics, has often been labelled as an "elitist" by her opposition.

The BJP, during the cash-for-query controversy, had questioned the lifestyle of Moitra, who was expelled from the Lower House in December after the parliamentary ethics committee's report held her accountable for accepting gifts and illegal gratification.


"There is no doubt about my victory. It is about how big the margin will be. I live here and have been among my people for the past five years and even before that as an MLA. So, there is a very strong connection, and frankly, there is no election mode as such here," she told PTI.

Moitra, who was MLA of Karimpur assembly constituency since 2016 and former TMC district president, had won the seat in 2019.

She won by a margin of over 60,000 votes, bagging 45 per cent of the total votes polled.


The 49-year-old politician said, "My victory would be a fitting response to the ploy to expel and harass me" through ED and CBI raids.

Despite accusations of elitism levelled against her by the BJP, Moitra remains unapologetic and steadfast in her commitment to serving her constituents.

In contrast, Roy, a fashion designer by profession, has dismissed her opponent, Moitra, as a "non-threat", asserting that the "misrule and corruption" under the TMC government in Bengal have compelled her to enter politics.


"Joining politics was a conscious decision. I am an apolitical person. People had voted for the TMC with a lot of expectations, but they are disappointed now. You can say this disappointment has forced me into politics. I am confident about my victory," Roy told PTI.

Krishnanagar, situated in the bordering district of Nadia, has a diverse demographic makeup with approximately 1.7 million voters.

The constituency is predominantly rural, with around 87 per cent of its population residing in rural areas.


The Hindu and Muslim communities make up 55 per cent and 35 per cent of the population respectively, underscoring the religious diversity characteristic of West Bengal politics.

Additionally, Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) collectively account for 22.57 per cent and 1.69 per cent of the population, wielding significant influence on electoral dynamics and outcomes.

The constituency, which shares a border with Bangladesh, has a considerable Matua population with origins in the neighbouring country, and the potential impact of the implementation of CAA rules is expected to be significant in the area.

"The Matua population is higher in the neighbouring seat of Ranaghat. Here we have a small percentage,” Moitra said.

The historical backdrop of Krishnanagar adds a layer of complexity to the electoral contest, with both candidates invoking the legacy of Maharaja Krishnachandra.

While the TMC has sought to portray the royal family's allegiance to the British against Siraj-ud-Daulah during the Battle of Plassey as “anti-nationalist”, the BJP has framed it within the larger narrative of Hindu resurgence and resistance against perceived Muslim oppression.

"The allegation is Maharaja Krishnachandra Roy had sided with the British. The question is why did he do that? It's because of the tyranny of Siraj-ud-Daullah. If Maharaja Krishnachandra had not done that, Hinduism and the Bengali language would not have survived in the state," Roy argued.

"The Sanatan dharma was under threat because of Siraj-ud-Daulah's tyranny," she said.

BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya dubbed the allegation of Roy being “anti-national”, as baseless and said, “It was the TMC candidate who has been accused of wrongdoing and was expelled. So, it is for the people to decide who is anti-national.” The constituency, which came into being in 1967, had been a stronghold of the CPI(M) till 2004, except in 1999 when the BJP won the seat.

Riding on the winds of change, the TMC has won the seat for the third straight term since 2009.

Political observers think that with former CPI(M) MLA SM Abidi, a Left-Congress alliance candidate, in the fray, the constituency might witness a “three-cornered” contest.

“The people are fed up with the communal politics of TMC and the BJP. Both are two sides of the same coin. I am confident that people would vote for us this time,” Abidi said.

In 2019, the BJP candidate had bagged 40 per cent of votes as it pocketed the entire anti-TMC vote share due to the absence of the Left and Congress alliance, which decided to fight separately.

The Left and Congress had polled 8.8 and 2.8 per cent votes respectively then.

The constituency goes to polls on May 13 in the fourth phase and votes would be counted on June 4.