She is travelling in a black jeep, and the roads are narrow. But that’s was not hindering her from going deeper into her constituency on the last leg of the campaigning.

It’s Friday morning and Trinamool Congress’ firebrand leader Mahua Moitra is in a jeep rally in Nakashipara, some 30 km from Krishnanagar city. It’s quite a festive mood in this part of rural South Bengal under Nadia district.

People of different ages throng to see the popular leader, who has been a fierce critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party. While some women came out hurriedly from their mud or half concrete small houses, others wait patiently with children on their lap. 

“Mahua Moitra Zindabad.Jai Bangla,” chant Trinamool Congress workers, who follow Moitra’s jeep, riding on their bikes, as a huge crowd greets her. Moitra waves her hands to the crowds, frequently shaking hands too. They are elated.

The 49-year-old TMC leader is seeking re-election from her Krishnanagar seat, which is going to polls on May 13 in the fourth phase.

Ever since TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has fielded Moitra again in this constituency, the seat has become a fierce battleground for the BJP and the ruling TMC in the state.

Parliament expelled the former investment banker in December last year, accusing her of taking bribes in exchange for asking questions. Moitra denied the allegations, and said she was expelled “without proof”.

“Vote for Trinamool Congress. Vote for Mahua Moitra. Send her to Parliament again with a huge margin. And, that will be a befitting reply to the BJP and Narendra Modi,” says a local TMC leader to the crowd.

BJP’s surprise

In a surprise move, the BJP fielded Amrita Roy from the erstwhile royal family of Krishnanagar to take on Moitra. Roy, the Rajmata of the local royal family, was not a public face at large before the saffron party named her as the Krishnanagar candidate.

For the INDI alliance, SM Saadi of CPI (M) will be contesting from the seat.

“Candidate is irrelevant. The TMC versus BJP is the fight. But our fight is against the symbol, the candidate is irrelevant,” Moitra said amid her election campaign, when asked who would be the major contestant for her.

On Modi’s recent Adani-Ambani jibe at Rahul Gandhi, she said, “Modi’s only guarantee is that every time he opens his mouth, he lies. He is the king of telling lies.”

“Now his tempo (of election campaign) has gone. That is why he is talking about all these. All the truth may now come out,” Moitra told businessline.

“In this constituency, our lead will be more than that of last time,” a confident Moitra said. In 2019, Mahua won her first Lok Sabha polls from the Krishnanagar seat. She defeated BJP’s Kalyan Chaubey, a former football player, by over 60,000 votes.

“In Krishnanagar city, BJP may garner some votes. The party would have got more votes in the city, had it fielded a strong leader. Amrita Roy has no strong base across the constituency. Moitra will get huge leads in the rural belts, especially in Muslim-dominated areas. The CPI-M candidate may get some votes too in the Muslim-dominated regions. Thus, finally the BJP may come out as the third party in terms of vote share,” a local political observer said.

The Prime Minister, who has been visiting West Bengal frequently, questioned if the ruling Trinamool can form the government at the Centre if it manages to win only 15 seats in the elections. “TMC isn’t even winning 15 seats in the country. Now tell me, can TMC form the government with just 15 seats?” Modi had said while speaking at a rally in Krishnanagar earlier this month.