Demonetisation main issue in Bengal by-polls

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Kolkata, Nov 18 (IANS) The Centre’s demonetisation move dominated all other issues during campaigning for by-elections to two Lok Sabha and one assembly seats in West Bengal, where polling will be held on Saturday.

By-elections will be held for Cooch Behar (Reserved) parliamentary seat in northern Bengal and Tamluk in southern part. The by-election will also be held in Monteshwar assembly seat. The vote count is on Tuesday.

The ruling trinamool Congress, the Congress, the Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party have fielded candidates for all three seats.

All the parties have made development a major plank of their poll campaigns.

Even as people are forced to stand in queues for hours at ATM kiosks and banks to exchange old notes or withdraw money, and trade is taking a hit, the BJP is harping on the “bold decision” the Modi government took on November 8 night.

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“The common man is very happy with the bold move. They are ready to face a little inconvenience to remove corruption from the nation,” said BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha, who drummed up support for party candidates alongside state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh and Union Minister Babul Supriyo.

On the other hand, the Trinamool, the Congress and Left Front are harping on problems faced by the common man over demonetisation.

Banerjee, who has been very vocal in her protest against the Modi government’s move, however, stayed away from campaigning. Her party leaders Mukul Roy, Subrata Buxi and Suvendu Adhikari have been spearheading the Trinamool campaign.

For the Left Front, the main campaigner has been state Communist Party of India-Marxist Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.

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The Cooch Behar parliamentary constituency comprises all seven assembly segments from Cooch Behar district and has been a bastion of the Left Front partner All India Forward Bloc. In 2014 general elections, AIFB lost the seat for the first time in 37 years to Trinamool’s Renuka Sinha. Her death has necessitated the by-poll.

In East Midnapore district’s Tamluk, which fell vacant after MP Suvendu Adhikari became a minister in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Cabinet, his brother Dibyendu is the Trinamool candidate. The area, which includes the erstwhile political hotspot Nandigram, is a Trinamool stronghold.

Sajal Panja’s death caused Monteshwar assembly by-poll, in which Trinamool has nominated his son Saikat Panja.

In the April-May assembly polls, the Trinamool did remarkably well in Cooch Behar and Tamluk segments. Since then, the Congress and the Left Front, which cobbled up an alliance, have suffered major setbacks as a number of legislators switched sides to the Trinamool.

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