Updated April 4th, 2024 at 12:05 IST

Mamata vs PM Modi in Cooch Behar as Bengal's Constituency Set For Back-to-Back Rallies

Bengal's Cooch Behar braces for high-octane campaign as Modi, Mamata set for back-to-back rallies

Reported by: Digital Desk
Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee | Image:PTI/File
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Kolkata: West Bengal's Cooch Behar constituency is gearing up for a fiery Lok Sabha campaign on Thursday, with back-to-back rallies by both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Banerjee is scheduled to speak at a rally in Cooch Behar around noon, while the PM will address a mega rally at Rasleela ground around 3pm, the venues being 30km apart.

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The Cooch Behar Lok Sabha constituency, recently marred by clashes between supporters of sitting BJP MP and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nisith Pramanik and TMC leader and Minister Udayan Guha, has now become a battleground of prestige, with both parties leaving no stone unturned to secure victory.

Renominated as a Lok Sabha candidate, Pramanik faces Jagadish Barma Basunia, the TMC's candidate representing the Rajbanshi community and the sitting MLA of Sitai, as his primary opponent this time.

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"People of Cooch Behar are firmly with the BJP, and this will be reflected in the poll results on June 4. The development initiatives undertaken by the BJP MP and the Narendra Modi government at the Centre will ensure a second consecutive term victory for the saffron party," BJP state general secretary Jagannath Chattopadhyay said.

Once a stronghold of Left Front partner Forward Bloc, which held the seat for an uninterrupted 32 years from 1977 to 2009, the Cooch Behar constituency currently remains a BJP stronghold, with the party securing five of the seven assembly segments despite TMC's significant victory in the 2021 state polls.

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In contrast, the TMC asserts that the people of Cooch Behar yearn for relief from the "Goondaraj" (rule of hooligans) of the BJP.

"The people of Cooch Behar are wary of the BJP and its elected representatives. This sentiment will be evident in the polls, and we are confident of winning the seat with a substantial margin," said Guha, who also serves as the North Bengal Development Minister.

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The TMC had previously won the seat in 2014 and 2016 during a by-election following the demise of incumbent MP Renuka Sinha.

The seat will go to polls on April 19 in the first phase.

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TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee expects the PM to provide a white paper detailing the funds allocated to West Bengal under Awas Yojna and MGNREGA since 2021 during the rally.

"I expect him to furnish details or a white paper regarding the funds disbursed to Bengal under Awas Yojna and MGNREGA from 2021, following their defeat in the assembly polls here," he said.

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Dinhata, home to both Pramanik and Guha, has remained a hotspot of political violence over the years, with both leaders, who are at odds with each other, striving to maintain dominance on their home turf.

The clashes at Dinhata Bazar on March 19, involving supporters of both sides, which reportedly dragged both leaders into the altercation, led to police intervention and prompted Governor CV Ananda Bose to visit the site of violence.

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The April 4 rally in Cooch Behar will be Modi's first rally in the state after the announcement of the poll schedule by the Election Commission on March 16.

Before the EC's announcement, the PM had addressed four rallies in West Bengal, the first at Arambagh in Hooghly district, the second at Krishnanagar in Nadia district, the third at Barasat in North 24 Parganas, and the fourth one at Siliguri in Darjeeling district from March 1 to 9. 

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(Inputs from PTI. Except for the headline, Republic has not edited the content)

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Published April 4th, 2024 at 12:04 IST