Do or die for Congress in Bengal’s Maldaha-Dakshin LS constituency

Kolkata, April 4 (IANS) For Congress it is do or die to retain the Maldaha-Dakshin Lok Sabha constituency in Malda district of West Bengal in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

Since 2009, the voters of Maladaha-Dakshin have never disheartened Congress by electing the sitting party Lok Sabha member Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury for three consecutive terms.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Choudhury, the younger brother of iconic Congress leader from Malda district and former Railway Minister Late Abu Barkat Ataur Ghani Khan Choudhury, won by defeating BJP’s Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury with a narrow margin of just 8,226 votes.

In 2019, Trinamool Congress candidate Md Moazzem Hossain was the runner-up securing just 27 per cent of the total votes polled.

This time, Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury is not contesting because of his age-related ailment and instead the Congress leadership has fielded his son Isha Khan Chaudhury, who is the former party legislator from Sujapur, one of the seven assembly constituencies under Maldaha-Dakshin.

It will be even more difficult for Congress in this minority-dominated constituency if All India Secular Front (AISF) fields its candidate. Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury has requested the AISF leadership to refrain from contesting from the constituency.

In the request letter, the outgoing MP has outlined that in the event of AISF contesting independently, the division in anti-BJP and anti-Trinamool Congress might ultimately help BJP in the contest.

However, no assurance on this count has come from the AISF leadership till date.

BJP has re-nominated its candidate Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, who is currently the party legislator from English Bazar, one of the seven assembly constituencies under the Maldaha-Dakshin constituency.

Trinamool Congress has fielded Shahnawaz Ali Raihan. A historian pursuing his DPhil at Oxford University in the UK, Raihan has already started feeling the pinch of infighting in the ruling party in Malda district.

Soon after his nomination was announced, he expressed apprehensions of sabotage by a section of the leader and workers from his party. He told the media person that there are examples of party councillors providing clandestine support to the rival forces before the elections.

The contest in Maladaha-Dakshin will be mainly concentrated between Congress and BJP. The BJP is depending on the consolidation of the majority votes in its favour which was already evident in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

However, the charm and nostalgia associated with the Late Abu Barkat Ataur Ghani Khan Choudhury still persist in the constituency.

The Malda district is globally acclaimed for the production of natural varieties of juicy and pulpy mangoes. The “Fazli” variety of mangoes remains in demand globally. The mango production is considered to be the principal bread earner for a large section of the population in Maldaha-Dakshin which has a voter strength of around 14 lakh.

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