Barrackpore (WB): This industrial belt on the eastern bank of Ganga is witnessing a riveting fight among a seasoned politician, a trade unionist, a lawyer and a retired IPS officer for the Lok Sabha seat that will go to polls in the last phase on May 12.
Situated about 25-km from state capital Kolkata, the constituency has 12 candidates in the fray.
TMC leader and former Railways minister Dinesh Trivedi, who in 2012 had to resign after his proposed passenger fare hike irked party chief Mamata Banerjee, is seeking a second term. In a surprising poll outcome, he had defeated Tarit Topdar, a six-time sitting CPI(M) MP, by 56,024 votes in 2009. CPI-M has won this seat nine times since 1951.
Barrackpore has about 22 per cent Hindi-speaking settlers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Muslims have 10 per cent vote share in this constituency.
This time Trivedi, a trained pilot and an MBA from the US, is up against CPI(M) trade unionist Subhasini Ali who is eyeing a comeback more than two-and-a-half decades after her last victory from Kanpur seat, retired IPS officer Ramesh Handa of BJP and lawyer Samrat Topadar of Congress.
Trivedi goes to the contest on a strong footing in this seat which has over 12.84 lakh electorate. All the 7 assembly segments under this constituency - Amdanga, Bijpur, Naihati, Bhatpara, Jagaddal, Noapara and Barrackpore were secured by the TMC-Congress combine in 2011.
Besides, the ruling TMC has all three Zilla Parishad seats and 24 Panchayat Samiti seats under this constituency.
Also, all the eight municipalities Halisahar, Naihati, Kanchrapara, Bhatpara, Garulia, North Barrackpore, Barrackpore and Titagarh under this constituency are in TMC`s bag.
But political observers say though statistics give Trivedi an edge over his opponents, votes for BJP could play a key role. Also, a section of voters have voiced angst over the lack of any major development activities carried out here in the past five years.
Trivedi, however, denies these charges, claiming he was in touch with the constituency and funds have also been spent from the MP-LAD fund for development works.
"There is no Modi wave. There is only Mamata wave in Bengal. In two-and-a-half years only, she has transformed Bengal. The next government at the Centre cannot be formed without her support," says Trivedi, who has plans to convert Barrackpore into an international market for animal and agricultural produce, besides opening a medical college and hospital in the area.