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West Bengal polls: With 50% Hindi voters, Bally raises a stink on lack of civic amenities

Besides water facilities, other issues that dominate conversation are lack of infrastructure and cleanliness, and other civic amenities in a constituency with 50 per cent Hindi speakers

Rita Shaw has made up her mind. “I will vote for development and someone who can bring clean water to my house and provide us a clean environment,” said the resident of Howrah’s Bally Assembly constituency ready to vote on Saturday in the fourth phase of polling. Shaw, who has been living at Lala Babu Shair Road Belurmath nearly 30 years, fetches water from a community tap, a little further from her house.

Besides water facilities, other issues that dominate conversation are lack of infrastructure and cleanliness, and other civic amenities in a constituency with 50 per cent Hindi speakers

The BJP has fielded late cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya’s daughter Baishali Dalmiya against TMC’s Dr Rana Chatterjee, a paediatrician, and CPI (M)’s Dipshita Dhar, a JNU scholar and SFI’s national joint secretary. In the last Assembly polls, Dalimya, who switched to the BJP just before the polls, had won the seat on a TMC ticket by defeating CPI(M)’s Saumendranath Bera by 15,403 votes.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, TMC candidate Prasun Banerjee won from Howrah with a margin of 1,03,695 votes against BJP’s Rantidev Sengupta.

“There will be a tough three-corner fight. There is an anti-incumbency factor against (Chief Minister) Mamata (Banerjee) in several areas. Having said that, the CPIM has fielded Dipshita who is just 28. She is also from Bally and knows the place and looks approachable to people. A good number of votes will go to her,” said a Bally voter who works as a police officer.

Akash Agarwal (27), who studied in Bangalore and Pune, was pained to see no development since he left for college education 10 years ago.

“I don’t think someone like me who wants to grow in life would live here for long. Why one should vote for Modi? Looks at inflation. In the last 10 years, this Central government couldn’t do anything. Why should we believe him. Didi couldn’t create any job opportunities for youths here either. The city and my area (Collieline) are in the same way I had left 10 years ago. I think I will just vote for the sake of being a citizen. But honestly speaking, none of them deserve our votes,” he said.

On the other hand, Hemant Suroliahas, a young interior designer from Donbosco, struck a favourable note for the BJP. “I think the BJP should get a chance. We have tried Didi, now we should also try this party. I am only concerned about unemployment, and Modi should ensure jobs.”

BJP’s Dalmiya told The Indian Express, “I have been writing about all the ill practices on Facebook and other places. Councillors were not happy with me because I didn’t allow cut money, syndicate etc. I spoke openly so much that the TMC terminated me and I joined BJP. I will work on roads and will provide houses to people under the PM Awas Yojana. I am a voter of Bally. I know the issues well and will work development. Most importantly, the public should be served. It is useless to stay in the party that doesn’t work for people.. CPM is the same party which siphoned crores meant for development of Bally.”

Dipshita Dhar was upbeat that her campaigning had received a good response.

“As there has been no municipal polls, the situation is dire. I will work for the basic infrastructure, cleanliness and other civic issues. Upgrade of health facilities is my priority. The hospital and health centres are in the worst condition. I will work on this front. Thirdly, I will work to bring back the lost glory of Bally. Bally has a cultural and sports legacy but parks and public libraries are in disrepair. Enough opportunities should be given to talented youths to tap into their potential,” said Dhar.

When asked about 50 per cent Hindi voters, she said she knows the language, “Development should be the focus. The BJP has grown by polarising Hindu and Muslims while the TMC is busy doing politics over language,” alleged Dhar.

The vote turnout in the last Assembly polls was 70 per cent.

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