Battlefield Bhabanipur: How Mamata is reaching out to different communities, one at a time

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Ahead of the Bhabanipur bypoll, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee is adopting several strategies to woo her voters during her ongoing campaigning.

 How Mamata is reaching out to different communities, one at a time

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee arrives at Alipore Survey building to file her nomination for by-polls for Bhawanipore constituency, in Kolkata, on September 10, 2021. (PTI Photo)

A visit to a mosque, wishes on Hindi Divas and a trip to a gurdwara three consecutive days of campaigning for Mamata Banerjee targetted at specific constituencies. With the BJP carpet-bombing her ‘safe bastion’ Bhabanipur with top leaders, the Trinamool Congress supremo refuses to leave things to chance.

So what exactly is Mamata’s strategy in Bhabanipur, a constituency with around 40 per cent non-Bengali voters, who are known to back the BJP?

The Trinamool Congress is on an expansion spree. For now, it is mostly targeting the Bengali population in Assam and Tripura, but Mamata’s pan-India ambitions are hard to miss. Her poll campaign was built on the ‘Bengali vs outsiders’ plank, but she has toned it down not only with Bhabanipur in mind, but also to reach out to the national audience by 2024. Part of the strategy involves wooing the huge Hindi-speaking population in her own constituency and trying to convince the Marwaris, Gujaratis, Punjabis and Biharis that she is not against them.

The other significant groupings in Bhabanipur are Muslims (around 20 per cent) and slum dwellers, both of which are strongly behind Mamata. The BJP, however, has vowed to put up a tough fight. It has fielded lawyer Priyanka Tibrewal, who was instrumental in getting the Calcutta high court order on the CBI probe into the post-poll violence. Tibrewal fit the bill as she is a woman and a Marwari.

While Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri will try to woo the Punjabis, Manoj Tiwari and Dinesh Trivedi will appeal to the Bihari and Gujarati communities. Suvendu Adhikari and Dilip Ghosh will reach out to the Bengali Hindus. Other star BJP campaigners include Babul Supriyo, Smriti Irani and Shahnawaz Hussain.

For the Trinamool, Mamata is the only star campaigner. Incidentally, she will rely more on door-to-door campaigning rather than on big rallies.

(The author is a senior journalist based out of Kolkata)

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