Constituency watch: Will 'Lotus' bloom in Adhikari bastion of Kanthi?

by IANS |

Kolkata, April 22 (IANS) When it is the question of the twin constituencies of Kanthi and Tamluk in East Midnapore District of West Bengal, the tag associated with them is ‘Adhikari bastion’ rather than a Trinamool Congress bastion.

The man, who converted the erstwhile Red citadel of Kanthi into the Trinamool’s bastion, is now the principal face of the Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly.

For the Leader of Opposition (LoP), Suvendu Adhikari, it is a “do or die” bid to make the ‘Lotus’ bloom at Kanthi, a constituency from where his father Sisir Adhikari was elected as Trinamool Congress candidate for three-consecutive terms in 2009, 2014 and 2019.

Sisir Adhikari is staying away from the electoral battle this time because of old age.

From the Kanthi constituency, the BJP has fielded Soumendu Adhikari, the younger brother of Suvendu Adhikari and the former Chairman of Kanthi Municipality.

The statistical factors that are giving Soumendu Adhikari a cushion are the results of the seven Assembly constituencies under Kanthi Lok Sabha in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls.

In those polls, the BJP candidates swept four out of the seven Assembly constituencies.

Observers say that the results were an indication that since 2009, Kanthi, or rather the entire East Midnapore District was actually an Adhikari-bastion rather than a TMC fortress.

On its part, the Trinamool Congress has fielded Uttam Barik, the elected party legislator from Patashpur Assembly constituency under Kanthi Lok Sabha.

A popular elected public representative from the area, Barik’s disadvantage is his old rivalry with another ruling party legislator from the same district and also a member in the state Cabinet, Akhil Giri.

This time, the Left Front-ally CPI has agreed to forego its stake at Kanthi in support of the Congress candidate as a part of the Congress-Left Front seat sharing agreement in the state.

The Congress has fielded Urvashi Bhattacharya and though not a prominent public face, Bhattacharya, an advocate by profession, had been acting as a behind-the-stage warrior for the party for quite some time.

Since 1977, which marked the beginning of the 34-year Left Front regime in West Bengal, Kanthi had witnessed a fluctuating voting trend.

Like many other Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, Kanthi had never been a Red bastion in the true sense during that period.

In 1977, Janata Party’s Samar Guha got elected from that constituency.

However, the pattern changed in 1980, with the CPI’s Sudhir Kumar Giri emerging as the victor. The pattern changed again in 1984, with Congress’ Phulrenu Guha emerging as a victor.

Thereafter, from 1989 to 1999, the constituency elected CPI’s Giri’s four-consecutive times.

In 1999, Trinamool Congress’ Nitish Sengupta got elected and was defeated by the CPI's Prasanta Pradhan. However, since 2009, Kanthi turned into a virtual Adhikari-bastion with Sisir Adhikari winning for three-consecutive terms.

With around 15 lakh voters, Kanthi is basically a rural area-dominated Lok Sabha constituency with the majority of the population being dependent on agriculture and some on deep sea fishing.

The constituency is also famous for the sea-resort destination of Digha.

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