Diamond Harbour: The stakes are high for the Trinamool Congress in its decade-long bastion of Diamond Harbour, the parliamentary seat from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek is seeking a re-election, as the result here is likely to have a bearing on the party’s internal dynamics and on West Bengal politics. The state’s opposition parties claim the result in this seat will be seen as “people’s verdict” in favour of or against the TMC supremo herself.
Situated on the banks of the Hooghly river in the South 24 Parganas district, the constituency was a Left pocket borough since the late sixties until the TMC, riding on winds of change, breached it in 2009 with then TMC leader Somen Mitra snatching the seat from four-time MP Samik Lahiri. But Mitra left the TMC and returned to the Congress in early 2014 and is now its state unit chief.
In 2014, just three years after his baptism in politics as a leader of the Trinamool Youth Congress, Abhishek Banerjee was given ticket from this seat and won it by polling more than 40 per cent votes. Since then, he has only grown in stature within the party and is its de facto number two. This rise has not only raised some eyebrows in state politics but also among some party veterans, who allegedly feel sidelined.
Mukul Roy was one of those whose fall in TMC was proportional to Abhishek Banerjee’s rise. Roy quit the party in 2017 to join the BJP. Five years ago, the TMC’s South 24 Parganas district unit was united and worked together to ensure that Abhishek Banerjee wins by a huge margin.
But since then, much water has flown down the river Hooghly and the scenario within the ruling party and in the state has changed drastically. The Trinamool Congress, which was then literally unchallenged in Bengal is now facing a tough fight from the BJP, with chief minister’s nephew being one of the target.
The inner bickering of the ruling party has also come out in open. According to a TMC leader, who did not wish to be named, Abhishek Banerjee’s victory is a foregone conclusion but “what bothers the party is whether he would be able to increase the margin or not”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his poll campaign at Diamond Harbour, had even said that Abhishek would be defeated and his office in the area would shut down after the elections. The BJP has fielded Nilanjan Roy from the seat, who has been booked under the POCSO Act for allegedly sexually molesting a girl inside a house at Falta in West Bengal.