By Joymala Bagchi
Murshidabad (West Bengal) [India], April 24 (ANI): Murshidabad, the district with a sizeable presence of Muslim community, is set to witness an interesting battle in the seventh phase of West Bengal assembly elections scheduled for Monday between the ruling Trinamool Congress, BJP and Samyukta Morcha.
Nine constituencies will go to polls in Murshidabad district in the seventh phase. Muslims comprise 66.27 per cent population of the district according to 2011 census.
In Murshidabad constituency, sitting MLA and TMC candidate Shaoni Singha Roy is a strong contender against Niazuddin Sekh of Congress and BJP's Gouri Sankar Ghosh.
Roy, a two-time MLA from the seat, had fought earlier elections as a Congress candidate. She had defeated Ashim Krishna Bhatta of TMC in 2016 assembly elections.
The presence of Indian Secular Front (ISF), which is part of Samyukta Morcha, has impacted the political dynamics in the district. AIMIM is fighting six assembly seats including three in Murshidabad and is keen to make its presence felt. The Samyukta Morcha also includes Left parties and Congress.
AIMIM's Murshidabad district observer Asaful Sheik told ANI that all parties have "so far have considered the minority community only as the vote bank".
"We are pitching for development and education which is the need of the hour. We want to be people's voice and bring forth their issues. Also, we do not want BJP to take advantage, hence we are fighting on a few seats," he said.
ISF is making strong efforts in Raninagar and Murshidabad assembly constituencies. It is also contesting from Farakka. In Malda, ISF is contesting from Mothabari and Sujapur. ISF candidates are not in fray on seats AIMIM is contesting in this phase and there appears a "silent understanding" between the two on a few seats.
ISF's Naushad Siddiqui told ANI that "other than these few seats we are supporting Samyukta Morcha".
"We have focused on specific seats and we know that TMC will not get votes. Our agenda includes health, education and employment," he said.
Murshidabad and Malda districts are also considered bastions of Congress. Berhampore, the administrative headquarters of Murshidabad, is represented in the Lok Sabha by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also made efforts to woo the electorate including people from the minority community.
While the main battle in most districts of state is seen to be largely between the Trinamool Congress and BJP, in Murshidabad, it is multi-cornered contest in Murshidabad district.
The remaining eleven constituencies of Murshidabad will go to polls on April 29 during the final phase of West Bengal assembly polls. The counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)