Electoral juggernaut reaches Kolkata; Modi, Mamata hold roadshows

A total of 57 constituencies will go to polls on June 1

Modi roadshow in Kolkata Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with West Bengal BJP President Sukanta Majumdar and party leader Suvendu Adhikari during a roadshow for Lok Sabha elections, in Kolkata | Salil Bera

After an extensive 40-day journey crisscrossing the nation, the seven-phase electoral juggernaut has finally arrived in Kolkata. In the last phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls on June 1, a total of 57 constituencies will head to the polls. 

Among these, nine crucial constituencies in south Bengal, primarily in Kolkata and its neighbouring regions, will also cast their ballots. Other than Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal is the only state where polling has been ongoing since the opening phase. 

As a result, politically rich citizens of India’s cultural hub have had to wait anxiously to take part in the greatest festival of democracy. 

On Tuesday, though, the wait truly ended. Following a day of sluggishness due to heavy rains and strong winds caused by cyclone Remal, Kolkata burst into a political frenzy. In what could easily be called the clash of political titans, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did roadshows in the heart of the City of Joy within a span of an hour.  

As a result, traffic was heavily restricted on several roads in northern and central parts of Kolkata. Bidhan Sarani was made completely non-operational between 3 pm and 9 pm. 

Mamata Banerjee’s meetings and rallies in and around Kolkata have been a daily feature ahead of the last phase of the polls. For the BJP, however, PM Modi’s roadshow holds extra significance given that the saffron party has eyed 30 seats from West Bengal as part of its '400-par' project. 

The PM has made extra efforts to visit almost every constituency in the state and campaign for all 42 candidates physically. It remains to be seen if his claim of West Bengal providing the best outcome for the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls comes true on June 4. 

PM Modi arrived in the state after a rally in Jharkhand’s Dumka. He did a roadshow and addressed a rally in Barasat’s Ashoknagar in North 24 Parganas district in support of the party’s Barasat Lok Sabha constituency candidate Swapan Majumder and Basirhat candidate Rekha Patra. He then addressed a meeting in Jadavpur’s Baruipur in support of the party’s Jadavpur candidate Anirban Ganguly and Kolkata South candidate Debashri Chaudhary and paid his tribute at Sarada Ma’s residence in Kolkata’s Bagbazar. 

Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, started her day with a march in Dum Dum in support of the party’s candidate Saugata Roy. 

LS polls: Mamata road show in Kolkata West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee dances with artists during a road show for Lok Sabha elections, in Kolkata | Salil Bera

Both the leaders then made their way to the heart of Kolkata. The Trinamool supremo started her program from Entally in central Kolkata before marching her way towards Ballygunje, seeking a vote for her Kolkata Dakshin candidate Mala Roy. 

PM Modi, meanwhile, did his roadshow in Kolkata Uttar constituency where the party has fielded TMC-turncoat Tapas Roy. Before starting he paid floral tribute to a statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. 

The excitement among the crowd in both the leaders’ events was apparent. While a large group of people, including party workers and supporters walked behind the Bengal chief minister, a thick crowd lined up on the footpaths to catch a glimpse of the prime minister.

From his rally in Barasat on Tuesday, he attacked the TMC on the issues of Sandeshkhali, corruption, alleged religious appeasement and vote-bank politics. He said, “Main objective of the opposition is to appease the vote bank. Trinamool has cheated the OBCs in Bengal. The Calcutta High Court said declaring 77 Muslim communities as OBCs is unconstitutional. So, Trinamool has taken away the rights of millions of OBCs.”

He added, “The saints of Ramakrishna Mission are being insulted. [Trinamool is] just doing it to please the vote bank. Sandeshkhali's sisters wanted justice. Trinamool has targeted them.”

In Jadavpur, he attacked the CPI(M) and Trinamool together. He said, “The politics of TMC and CPI(M) have finished Bengal. Just by the name they are two different parties. Their shop is the same and all items are also similar.”

PM Modi is scheduled to stay the night at Raj Bhavan.

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