Howrah: Howrah is one of the few Lok Sabha constituencies which TMC won in its first electoral foray in 1998. In that sense, Howrah is a happy hunting ground for TMC. With over 90% urban population, Howrah, the twin city of Kolkata is highly cosmopolitan in nature. It has a significant percentage of Hindi speaking population, and BJP is hoping to win a sizeable chunk of it to throw a challenge to TMC in this constituency.
BJP has fielded journalist Rantideb Sen Gupta from this seat. He is up against two-time MP from TMC Prasun Banerjee. Former Indian international footballer Prasun Banerjee is looking to score a hattrick banking on work done by him and Didi’s charisma. In the last election, Prasun won defeating CPI(M)’s Sriip Bhattacharya by close to 2 lakh votes. Actor George Baker for BJP came third. Prasun had scraped through in 2013 by-election after death of TMC MP Ambica Banerjee by winning by a margin of 20 thousand votes against same CPI(M) opponent.
This time though left has changed its candidate. It has fielded Sumitra Adhikari. Congress’ Suvra Ghosh is also is fray. The assembly segments under Howrah LS are Bally, Howrah Uttar, Howrah Madhya,Shibpur, Howrah Dakshin, Sankrail (SC) and Panchla. Panchla TMC MLA had initially decided to against Prasun as the MP did precious little for the area. But later Prasun managed to convince him and the party is promising to put up a united front when Howrah votes on 6th May. Once an industrial hub, many industrial hubs are currently fledgling and it is a major poll issue in this region.
Historically, Howrah seat has rotated between winners from different parties. CPI(M) has won the seat seven times, undivided CPI twice, Congress and TMC four times. Congress stalwart Priyaranjan Dasmunsi won the seat in 1984 and 1996. Elections for 42 seats in West Bengal are taking place in seven phases. In 2014, TMC got 34, Congress 4 and BJP and CPI(M) won two seats each in the state.