Constituency watch: Massive MPLAD spending by MP keeps BJP ahead in Bankura

by IANS |

Kolkata, April 20 (IANS) The BJP’s sitting Lok Sabha member from Bankura and the Union Minister of State for Education, Dr Subhas Sarkar, who has been re-nominated by the party for the forthcoming elections, seems to be starting the race a bit ahead of his nearest competitors on three counts.

The first is his performance with regard to utilisation of the MPLAD funds allotted to him for the development of his constituency.

In his own words, he was unable to spend just Rs 25,000 out of his total MPLAD fund allotment of over Rs 16 crore in the last five years.

According to Sarkar, his spending would have been much more if he had not faced two hurdles — the first being non-allotment of MPLAD funds for two-consecutive financial years during the COVID-19 pandemic and the second being the hurdles created by the state government in smooth utilisation of funds in the initial period after he got elected.

His second advantage is the past record of the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 Assembly polls.

In 2019, Sarkar got elected by a margin of around 1.75 lakh votes.

In the 2021 Assembly elections, despite landslide victories of the Trinamool Congress elsewhere, BJP candidates managed victories in four out of seven constituencies under this Lok Sabha.

Another factor that might go in favour of Sarkar is his easy availability at Bankura except for the days when Parliament is in session in the national Capital.

The Trinamool Congress has fielded veteran party organisational man from the district, Arup Chakraborty with an aim to recover the constituency which had actress-turned-politician Moon Moon Sen as the party’s Lok Sabha member from 2014 to 2019.

Apart from being an elected party legislator from Taldangra Assembly constituency, one of the seven under Bankura Lok Sabha, Arup Chakraborty is also the District President of the Trinamool Congress.

An advocate by profession, Arup Chakraborty has his roots in the district which the ruling party hopes to exploit in the electoral battle.

In his campaign Arup Chakraborty is focussing on how the development projects by the Mamata Banerjee-ruled state government have played a role in freeing pockets in the district from the menace of Left Wing Extremism.

The CPI(M) has fielded “son of the soil” Nilanjan Dasgupta, also an advocate by profession, who is known in the area for his polite and clean image.

He is focussing on door-to-door campaigns over the lack of infrastructure development in the area, especially in the health sector.

An erstwhile Red bastion, Bankura had given CPI(M) 11-consecutive victories from 1980 to 2009.

Throughout this period, the elected MP from this constituency was the highly-respected CPI(M) Lok Sabha member, late Basudeb Acharya.

Even in the midst of a massive Trinamool Congress wave in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Acharya got elected from Bankura by a comfortable margin of over 1,00,000 votes. However, the equation changed in 2014, when Acharya was defeated by Trinamool Congress’ Moon Moon Sen.

The equation changed again in 2019 when BJP’s Subhas Sarkar got elected.

With over 15 lakh voters, a substantial portion of the electorate in Bankura is Tribal.

The key issue of the constituency traditionally has been abject poverty and extreme weather.

In fact the Left Wing Extremists at one point of time managed to strengthen their bases there riding on the twin issues of poverty and lack of development.

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