Family rivalries take shape of political opposition in Bengal rural polls

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Family rivalries take shape of political opposition in Bengal rural polls


Political parties are viewing Monday’s event as a warm-up match ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Although top leaders of all parties campaigned for the polls, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee refrained from it.
In North 24 Parganas district’s Jagulia gram panchayat, two daughters-in-law of the same family are contesting against each other.
Das, 68, had asked his son to refrain from contesting the polls as it might cause animosity within the family, but he refused to withdraw.
There are also examples of family rivalry where relatives are taking on each other in the polls to settle score.

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The West Bengal panchayat elections have not only kicked off a political battle but also infighting within families at many places where relatives are pitted against each other in an intense contest.

The three-tier polls, spread across more than 58,000 seats scheduled for Monday, have several instances where a father is pitted against his son, a mother is being challenged by her daughter, a son-in-law is taking on his father-in-law and a brother is slugging it out in the poll battlefield against his sister.

Prominent parties, including the Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Left Front, have obliged competing relatives by fielding them on their symbol to capitalise on the family popularity in the respective areas.

For instance, in Alipurduar district, retired school teacher Bhognarayan Das is contesting on a TMC ticket against his son Amal, who is a BJP candidate.

Das, 68, had asked his son to refrain from contesting the polls as it might cause animosity within the family, but he refused to withdraw.

“I had told my father that politics is all about political belief and ideology.

And our political battle won’t cause any harm to our relations,” Amal said.

In North 24 Parganas district’s Jagulia gram panchayat, two daughters-in-law of the same family are contesting against each other.

While Rima Das is in the field on a TMC ticket, her elder sister-in-law Bulbul Das is contesting as an Independent candidate.

However, the two are of the opinion that politics did not create a rift in their family as “politics has nothing to do with personal relationships”.

In Nadia’s Taldaha-Majhdia gram panchayat, three members of the same family are pitted against each other but poll rivalry has not soured their bonding.

Bablu Roy, the sitting TMC candidate, is fighting against his sister-in-law Aduri Roy, who is a BJP candidate, while his uncle Laxman Roy is fighting as an Independent with support from the Left Front.

“Whoever wins the election will be from our family and will work for the development of our village and the two defeated candidates will support the winner,” Bablu told PTI.

The three, who are part of a 10-member strong joint family, make it a point to have their lunch and dinner with other family members after a day’s campaign, just as it used to be earlier.

There are also examples of family rivalry where relatives are taking on each other in the polls to settle score.

Partha Pratim Das, a TMC zilla parishad candidate from East Midnapore district, is miffed that his wife Lipika contesting on a BJP ticket in a nearby seat.

Lipika, on the other hand, said she wanted to teach her husband a lesson as her pleas to shun politics for several years have fallen on deaf ears.



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