One of the last remaining Left bastions, Jamuria assembly constituency in the heart of Paschim Bardhaman’s coal belt will witness a triangular battle between CPI(M)’s young face Aishe Ghosh, JNU Students’ Union president against Trinamool’s coal miner-candidate Hareram Singh and BJP’s Tapas Roy in polling slated for Monday, April 26.
Jamuria has till now withstood Trinamool’s onslaught in the last two assembly elections returning CPI(M)’s Jahanara Khan twice in the last two assembly elections.
This time round the party decided to risk fielding Aishe Ghosh, a student debutante from the constituency replacing a veteran law-maker.
Ghosh who came into the limelight during the agitation in the premier university which also threw up another Left leader Kanhaiya Kumar, the young doctoral scholar has been a prominent face in protests against the CAA and new farm laws.
The newcomer is however not a greenhorn as far as the coal belt is concerned having been brought up in the colliery belt of the Burdwan.
The Trinamool Congress has nominated Hareram Singh, a coal mine worker and a leader of the party’s labour wing INTTUC-approved coal mine workers association in this area.
The TMC is betting on Singh to wrest the constituency, which has large numbers of coal miners.
The BJP, which had a huge lead in Jamuria in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as part of the Asansol constituency, has put up Tapas Roy as its candidate and is hoping to ride on a wave to win the seat.
Lack of safe drinking water, pollution and bad roads in this colliery belt are major problems faced in day to day life, according to locals, who also complain that though there are quite a few schools in the constituency, there is only one college catering to a large catchment area.
“We have to depend on primary health centres in the area for medical requirements or travel to Durgapur or Asansol for treatment,” said Mukta Das, a resident of Damodarpur.
Of the 2.22 lakh voters in Jamuria, 27 per cent are from the minority community, while around 25 per cent belong to the scheduled castes and tribes, an official said.
CPI(M) area secretary Manoj Dutta claimed that apart from some sponge iron factories, no major industry have come up in Jamuria during TMC’s rule in the last 10 years.
“At least two industries, including one steel factory, proposed during the Left Front government have not seen the light of the day, thus depriving local people of much needed job opportunities,” Dutta told PTI.
Expressing confidence that the CPI(M) will hold on to the seat, he said that just as Ghosh had led the anti-fee hike protests at JNU, she will also be vocal in the assembly for overall development of Jamuria.
Contending that the people of Jamuria had benefited from various welfare schemes taken up by chief minister Mamata Banerjee statewide, TMC candidate Singh alleged that the local populace were deprived of any development initiative by its CPI(M) representatives over the years.
“We will wrest the seat from CPI(M) this time as the welfare schemes like `Duare Sarka’, `Kanyashree ‘have benefitted the people,” he said.
Claiming he has received an overwhelming response from local people, BJP candidate Roy said that people have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development initiatives and that this will give rich dividends to the saffron party in this election.
“People of Jamuria have seen governments of both the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress and know that neither has done anything to solve their long pending problems relating to drinking water, pollution and jobs,” Roy said.
The BJP is also raking up coal and sand smuggling in Jamuria as major issues in this election.
BJP leaders claim illegal coal mining from abandoned mines of Eastern Coalfields Ltd. in the area has increased in the last decade.