TMC, BJP ready for bypoll battle in 4 Bengal assembly seats on Wednesday

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Kolkata, Jul 9 (PTI) Four assembly seats in West Bengal are going for bypolls on Wednesday with the BJP seeking to leverage its Lok Sabha election leads in three of these segments to boost morale and the TMC aiming to capitalise on its recent electoral success.

Three of the four constituencies - Maniktala in Kolkata, Ranaghat Dakshin and Bagdah in North 24 Parganas - are in south Bengal.

The BJP bagged Ranaghat Dakshin and Bagdah seats in the 2021 assembly polls.

The fourth, Raiganj, is in north Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district and was won by the saffron camp in the last assembly elections.

The Maniktala seat was secured by the TMC in 2021 but it became vacant after former state minister Sadhan Pandey died in February 2022.

Despite the BJP winning the other three seats in 2021, the MLAs later switched to the TMC.

The Trinamool Congress nominated Supti Pandey, wife of the late party leader.

Krishna Kalyani from Raiganj, Biswajit Das from Bagdah and Mukut Mani Adhikari from Ranaghat Dakshin resigned from their positions to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

Kalyani, who lost to BJP's Kartik Chandra Paul in the Lok Sabha polls, is now in the fray again from Raiganj.

Adhikari, who lost to BJP’s Jagannath Sarkar from the Ranaghat Lok Sabha seat, is contesting again from the Ranaghat Dakshin assembly segment.

In Bagdah, a Matua-majority constituency, the TMC has fielded Madhuparna Takur, a member of the Matua Thakurbari and daughter of its Rajya Sabha MP Mamatabala Thakur.

The BJP has fielded All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey from Maniktala, Manoj Kumar Biswas from Ranaghat Dakshin, Binay Kumar Biswas from Bagdah and Manas Kumar Ghosh from Raiganj. Chaubey had unsuccessfully contested the Maniktala constituency in 2021.

Riding on its Lok Sabha poll success with the party securing 29 of the 42 seats in the state, up from 22 in 2019, the TMC hopes to win all four assembly segments.

“We are confident of winning all four assembly seats. The people of Bengal have rejected the BJP in the last Lok Sabha polls,” TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said.

Despite its dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls, where it was reduced to 12 seats from18 that it had won in 2019, the BJP is hopeful of retaining Bagdah, Ranaghat Dakshin, and Raiganj constituencies, citing significant leads in these assembly segments in the recent parliamentary polls.

“People have rejected the turncoats from all three seats — Bagdah, Ranaghat Dakshin, and Raiganj. We also won the three Lok Sabha seats under which these assembly segments come,” senior BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari said.

The Left Front, in collaboration with the Congress, is contesting the by-elections. The CPI(M) has fielded Arindam Biswas from Ranaghat Dakshin and Rajib Majumder from Maniktala.

The Left Front ally - Forward Bloc - has nominated Gouraditya Biswas for Bagdah, while the Congress has selected Mohit Sengupta in Raiganj.

The Election Commission has taken elaborate security measures to ensure free and fair elections in the four assembly constituencies.

To secure the 1,097 polling booths in Raiganj, Ranaghat Dakshin, Bagdah, and Maniktala, the EC is deploying around 70 companies of central forces, an official said.

There are around 10 lakh voters across the four assembly segments.

The counting will take place on July 13. PTI PNT BDC