If we make a list of the most violence and terror-affected regions in West Bengal during this Lok Sabha election, then Bankura constituency would be among the top ones.
Until 2006, the Left parties were dominant in this region, but the scenario started changing in the 2011 election, and the violence became more visible during the 2016 Assembly elections. So, any election after 2014 in this region cannot merely be judged by winning, losing or the percentage of vote share, as the democratic process has been undermined in this region, say local people, adding that in the last panchayat elections, “violence and intimidation crossed all limits.”
However, this time, probably the first time after the so-called Paribartan (change) of 2011, people are giving some indication of creating a different picture, if they get a chance to vote. Although a sense of fear and violence is palpable, people in Bankura are also hopeful of fighting back and are waiting for polling on May 12.
Out of total seven Vidhan Sabha segments, except Raghunathpur of Purulia, all six belong to Bankura, in which the Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate won in the Shaltora, Ranibadh, Raipur, Taldangra and Raghunathpur in the 2016 Assembly elections. The Congress and Left alliance candidate won from Chatna and Bankura, but they eventually joined the ruling party.
In the last Lok Sabha election, Basudeb Acharia, a nine-time Lok Sabha MP from Communist Party of India (Marxist), was defeated by TMC’s Moon Moon Sen with the margin of 98,506 votes. The percentage of vote share of Acharia and Sen was 31.05% and 39.1%, respectively. However, the vote share of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) grew from 4.33 to 20.31% between 2009 to 2014, respectively.
This time round, there is an apparent dissatisfaction among the people of Bankura that Sen never visited the constituency and also did not raise any issues related to this region in Parliament during her tenure.
With regard to the development of this region, people were aware of significant progress when a rail line was opened in Mukutpur, but in the past five years, work on this line has not made any headway. Actor-turned-politician Sen did nothing about it.
TMC workers were aware of peoples' dissatisfaction with Sen, which is why she has been replaced by current minister Subrata Mukhopadhyay, and has been shifted to contest from Asansol constituency. Incidentally, a few days ago, Mukhopadhyay was denied entry by locals into Tetulara village of Shaltora.
Even though the atmosphere does not seem conducive for fear-free voting in the region on May 12, the Left parties are hopeful of fighting it out.