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Baharampur dumps Adhir Chowdhury to find a new MP in ex-cricketer Yusuf Pathan

Kolkata: It took the electorate of the Baharampur Lok Sabha constituency a quarter of a century to break the status quo and elect a new representative from the seat to the lower house of the Parliament.

Rejecting Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, its five-time MP from this so-called ‘Congress fortress’, voters elected Trinamool Congress candidate and former India all-rounder Yusuf Pathan by a comprehensive win margin of over 85,000 votes.

Owing to Chowdhury’s defeat in Baharampur, which remained among the last-standing perceived Congress fortresses of the state, the Trinamool Congress had its flag grafted and flying from the region for the first time ever.

MS Education Academy

The TMC claimed to have dealt an ace from up its sleeve by bringing in Pathan from Gujarat to challenge Chowdhury, the son of the soil who has been winning the seat without a break since 1999 but was perceptively fighting serious anti-incumbency this time around.

Besides Pathan, Chowdhury also took on BJP’s Nirmal Chandra Saha, a popular doctor in the region, who bagged an impressive tally of nearly 3.7 lakh votes to finish third in the race.

Accepting defeat, Chowdhury said he did the best he could under the circumstances but chose not to hide his disappointment at the result.

“I wish Mr Pathan the very best,” the Congress leader said.

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, though, was scathing in her criticism of Chowdhury post-declaration of the results and called him a “man of arrogance”.

“People do not tolerate such arrogance for long. He wasn’t a leader of the Congress but a man for the BJP,” the chief minister said.

Pathan, on the other hand, said Chowdhury would continue to get his respect as a senior political leader.

Outlining his priorities for the constituency, Pathan said he would play proactive roles in developing a sports academy for youngsters and bring industrial investments to the area.

“I would like to state that I will dedicate my time to Baharampur from now on and set up my base here to work for my people,” the cricketer-turned-politician said.

While Bharampur is dominated by over 66 per cent Muslim population, the constituency is also inhabited by minorities like Christians, Jains and Sikhs in small numbers.

In an impressive testimony of gaining political inroads within one of the last remaining Congress strongholds of the state, the TMC managed to win six of those seven seats in the 2021 state polls, losing just one – the Baharampur assembly segment – to the BJP.

While the TMC has never won the Baharampur Lok Sabha constituency, local party leaders appeared to take heart during campaigns from Chowdhury’s declining vote share, which has dipped by over 11 per cent since the 2009 general elections.

Political observers maintain that despite five consecutive wins, Chowdhury has failed to cement the Congress foothold in Baharampur. The party has not only lagged behind in the assembly elections, but also remained unsuccessful in putting up a good show in the previous panchayat and civic body polls.

The BJP, on the other hand, has managed to expand its presence by means of Subrata Maitra’s win at Baharampur assembly constituency three years ago. That foothold, however, failed to offer dividends to the party in the current elections.

In the two preceding two Lok Sabha elections, Chowdhury trounced his TMC rivals by convincing margins. In 2019, Chowdhury defeated TMC’s Apurba Sarkar by over 80,000 votes which was a dip from his previous margin of more than 1.5 lakh votes against state minister Indranil Sen in 2014.

The challenge before him was to repeat the feat for one more time under changed circumstances which, evidently, proved for him to be insurmountable.

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