Bhowanipore bypoll: Mamata pays surprise visit to mosque to consolidate Muslim vote

Express News Service

KOLKATA: Hours after BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal filed her nomination for Bhowanipore by-election, her contender and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee paid a surprise visit to a mosque in the area to seek blessing ahead of the electoral battle which she needs to win to continue as the administrative head of the state. 

Mamata visited Sola Ana Masjid in the area and talked to the maulvis of the mosque. The visit was not in her scheduled itineraries but she decided to make the surprise visit. 

Three wards—63, 77, and 82, of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, which falls under Bhowanipore Assembly constituency, has nearly 45% cent Muslim electorates and insiders in the ruling Trinamool Congress said Mamata’s mosque visit was aimed to consolidate that particular set of voters in her favour. 

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“This is the most important by-election in the recent past. Mamata Banerjee is the first chief minister of Bengal who is contesting in a by-election to get elected as an MLA after being defeated in the general elections. She wants to leave no stone unturned. Muslim vote-bank supported our party en bloc in the recent Assembly elections reducing the legislative count of Congress and Left Front to zero. Her mosque visit is said to be a move to ensure the support of the voters of the particular community,” said a senior TMC leader. 

Eyeing the support of Hindu electorates, a BJP candidate visited the Kalighat temple on Saturday. “Our effort will be to consolidate both Hindu and non-Bengali speaking electorates in our favour. The constituency has around 40% electorates who are not Bengalis,” said a BJP leader. 

The by-election in Bhowanipore was necessitated after elected TMC MLA Shovandeb Chattopadhyay stepped down to facilitate Banerjee’s chief ministership following her defeat in Nandigram, East Midnapore. Mamata lost to her former lieutenant and BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari by around 1,900 votes and Chattopadhyay bagged victory with a margin of around 28,000 votes.  

Since Mamata failed to win in Nandigram, the deadline of her tenure as the chief minister now is November 5.