With legislative assembly elections underway, the nation is curious to see who wins the crown to West Bengal. To put some perceptive on the matter, a couple of pollsters from EtG Research conducted a district wide opinion poll. After tallying the results of this opinion poll, we gather that, out of the 7 assembly constituencies, AITC might win 3, while the BJP might win 4.
Jalpaiguri is a district in West Bengal, which is situated in North Bengal. The district has international borders with Bhutan and Bangladesh in the north and south respectively and district borders with Darjeeling hills in the west and northwest, also, Alipurduar district and Cooch Behar district on the east. Malbazar and Nagrakata constituencies are reserved for Scheduled Tribes candidates. Dhupguri, Mainaguri, Jalpaiguri and Rajganj constituencies are reserved for Scheduled Castes candidates. Along with one assembly constituency from Cooch Behar district, Dhupguri, Mainaguri, Jalpaiguri, Rajganj, Dabgram-Phulbari, and Malbazar constituencies form the Jalpaiguri Lok Sabha constituency, which is reserved for Scheduled Castes. Nagrakata is part of the Alipurduar Lok Sabha constituency.
LOCAL ISSUES- There is a lack of infrastructural facilities like housing, ill maintenance of roads, hospitals and in some areas, there is a inadequacy of proper water facilities. There is significant dissatisfaction among the tea garden workers in this area as they have not been receiving payment in accordance with the Minimum Wage Act. There is a major lack in representation, especially for the scheduled tribe communities. There are complaints that administrative posts are still dominated by the upper-class communities. There is a lack of higher secondary public schools. Some loopholes in the implementation of the schemes in the local area. There have been instances of political violence in the Jalpaiguri AC.
[Also Read: EtG Opinion Poll in West Bengal Alipurduar Dist]
A comparison of the 2016 and 2019 elections- 6 ACs were won by AITC while INC won Jalpaiguri AC. In the 2019 LS election, AITC’s miserable performance was due to left voters shifting towards BJP, the Modi wave, AITC’s “internal tussle” and the rigged Panchayat election of 2018 orchestrated by AITC which the people of North Bengal had never witnessed in the past. In 2016, the lowest vote share of AITC was in Nagrakata and the highest was in Maynaguri. While in 2019, the lowest was in Dabgram-Fulbari while Maynaguri again had the highest vote share (44%), which was also the lowest vote share percentage which BJP received from Rajganj. The highest vote share of BJP was in Dabgram-Fulbari, which also saw the highest margin between the two parties. A narrow margin was seen in just two ACs, specifically Dhupguri and Rajganj.
AITC- The AITC failed to open its account during the 2019 elections in North Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had addressed three major rallies in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar on December 14, 15 and 16 respectively in North Bengal. It was at the end of September when the Chief Minister had visited North Bengal where she held an administrative review meeting of Cooch Behar, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts at Uttar Kanya (Branch Secretariat, Govt. Of West Bengal, at Siligur). She had also launched the Pathasrhee Abhijan scheme to reconstruct a 16,000 km road located at Phulbari, Jalpaiguri. Several other AITC leaders and MLAs have publicly voiced their criticism of Kishor and his political consulting firm I-PAC. Some of the leaders include Bubai Kar, who is the joint secretary of AITC’s Jalpaiguri district in North Bengal. The surprise element among those joining the BJP was an MLA from Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri district of north Bengal. Sukra Munda has been actively participating in the party’s activities and praising chief minister Mamata Banerjee. He even attended Mamata’s meeting with the leadership of the Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts on December 14. He was appointed as vice-president of the Jalpaiguri district unit a few months ago. The factors working for AITC will be the recent initiatives and welfare schemes (SC/ST certificates, Kanyashree, Duare Sarkar, etc) undertaken by the state government along with the mass wedding conducted in Falakata which might save the Chief minister from losing out more than 3-4 seats in the upcoming election.
BJP- In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP emerged as a major challenger to the AITC by winning seven (Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Raiganj, Balurghat, North Malda) of the north Bengal region’s eight seats and Congress had won one (Malda South). Jalpaiguri MP Jayanta Roy had a strong Rajbanshi mass base whereas John Barla from Alipurduar enjoyed tribal support in the region. In the 2019 Parliamentary polls, Jayanta Roy won with a huge margin of over 214475 votes (Jalpaiguri PC) while BJP had a lead of 37020 votes from Nagrakata AC (Alipurduar PC). But after BJP won in Lok Sabha in 2019, they did not do much for the communities and the proposition to implement the CAA and NRC together has put the Rajbanshi votes at stake. The inactiveness of the local leaders might cause hindrance, but the local media has been instrumental in showcasing the achievements of the Central government which has left a mark on the minds of the voters.
[Also Read: EtG Opinion Poll in West Bengal Howrah Dist]
Mahajot- Days after the Centre and the West Bengal government announced financial packages for tea garden workers in their respective budgets, political parties in Bengal, Darjeeling and adjoining districts have turned this into a major issue ahead of the assembly polls. The north Bengal region has 54 assembly seats. Of these, tea garden workers and their families comprise a sizable section of voters, in around 15 seats. They are in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts. The tea gardens have always witnessed trade union movement over the demands of the workers. The Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), still have an influence on these workers. Many of the workers are tribal people and Gorkhas. Though Mahajot would fail to make significant electoral visibility, their influence over the masses in few areas would benefit them. The conundrum- In some of the gram panchayats areas, there are also sizable numbers of the Gorkha population. This population consists mostly of upper-caste Gorkhas like Chhetri and Sharma, a few from OBC categories like Gurung, Rai and Scheduled Caste categories like Lohar, Biswakarma and Kami. The support for AITC among the Gorkhas will be a deciding factor because of the arrival of the GJM leader, Bimal Gurung who has formed an alliance with the AITC. But in Dabgram -Fulbari, it will backfire as people oppose his arrival due to his background. The Trinamool Congress leadership in north Bengal has launched an initiative to woo Rajbanshi. The Chief minister has proposed that around 200 Rajbanshi language schools will be given “government recognition”. The Chief minister additionally assured that the CAA and NRC laws which the BJP is going to roll out as in all refugee colonies in the state had to be rejected since the citizens were already recognised by the state government as legal. That is why both Rajbanshi and Muslims are in favour of AITC, but might flip, if BJP eradicates the plans on implementing NRC and CAA.
[Also Read: EtG Opinion Poll in West Bengal Nadia Dist]
|1.||SC (Rajbanshi, Namasudhra, Tapasili, Roy, Ray, Sarkar)||
||Majority in Maynaguri, Jalpaiguri, Rajganj, Dabgram-Fulbari and presence across the district|
|2.||ST (Oraon, Munda, Kheria, Mahali)||
||Majority in Nagrakata, Mal, Dhupguri and presence across the district.|
||Presence across the district|
||Presence across the district|
||Presence in Dhupguri|
|6.||Others Religious groups (5-8%) (Christians, Addi Bassi, Boro, Saranath, Bidin, Sant, etc)||
||Presence in Rajganj.|