Kolkata, Apr 28 (PTI) In the trader dominated Jorasanko constituency, the two main rivals have squared off against each other in what analysts believe could be a cliff hanger.
TMCs buntings and flags match those of the BJPs in number and the busy North Calcutta locality home to some of the citys iconic landmarks ranging from Thakurabari, the palatial home where Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore lived to College Street with its historic buildings, coffee houses and bookshops, The TMC nominated its Hindi cell president and senior leader Vivek Gupta, denying a ticket to its sitting MLA Smita Bakshi, while the BJP reposed faith in its Kolkata Municipal Corporation councillor Meena Devi Purohit.
With a sizeable number of Gujaratis, Biharis and Marwaris living alongside Bengalis, the constituency once an exclusive preserve of Bengali Bhadraloks (gentry), is now considered a truly cosmopolitan area. The constituency with some 1,97,906 people as registered electors, has in the last century been a Congress bastion.
The TMC which has been winning the seat since the turn of the century may be facing one of its toughest battles to retain the seat as it could face the brunt of the party's rhetoric against 'outsiders', political analysts said.
Gupta, a former Rajya Sabha MP, said the ''outsider'' barb is not directed at the Hindi-speaking residents as they happen to be an integral part of the state, but towards people brought in by BJP for its campaign.
BJPs 60-year-old Purohit said, 'the nominee of the TMC is an outsider who is not a voter of Jorasanko, while I am a resident of the area. The BJP is a national party, which was founded by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a son of Bengal. How can our top leaders be outsiders?' She is confident of wresting the seat from the TMC and her enthusiasm stems from the fact that the BJP was leading by nearly 4,000 votes from the Jorasanko assembly segment in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Dominated by traders from Rajasthan and Gujarat and labourers from Bihar as it is contiguous to Burrabazar, once the largest wholesale market in Asia, the Jorasanko assembly constituency had traditionally chosen its legislator from the business community, barring the last two occasions.
In the 2016 assembly elections, then BJP candidate Rahul Sinha had finished second from the constituency, while the TMC nominee, Bakshi, bagged over 44,766 votes.
The TMC had emerged victorious in the seat in the 2011 assembly elections, too, with Bakshi polling over 57,970 votes, followed by CPI(M) nominee Janki Singh. Purohit, who had then contested the polls on a BJP ticket, finished third with 15 per cent of the votes cast.
The nominee of the CPI(M)-Congress-ISF combine, Ajmal Khan, 52, exuded confidence that people of the locality are looking for a change and he was their 'choice'.
Talking about his plans for Jorasanko, Gupta said he would strive to develop the area as the cultural and tourism hub of the city.
'You have Jorasanko Thakurbari here and many other historical places. I would try to develop the place as the cultural hub of the city,' he said.
Purohit, a five-time councillor, promises to solve issues related to an incomplete flyover, a portion of which had crashed in March 2016.
Jorasanko assembly constituency will go to the polls on April 29 during the last phase of elections. PTI BDC JRC JRC