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LS elections: Poor mango yield, soil erosion, CAA top poll talk as Malda gears up to vote in Phase 3

As Malda and the neighboring Murshidabad district gear up for the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 7, issues like poor mango yield, soil erosion, and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are taking center stage in the poll discourse.

Four parliamentary constituencies in Bengal – Jangipur, Malda Uttar, Malda Dakshin, and Murshidabad – will go to polls in this phase.

River erosion, inadequate healthcare infrastructure and perennial drinking water problems are the key electoral and campaign issues going into the polling in Malda on Tuesday, next week.

The mango growers of Malda are staring at an unusually dry season this year, as untimely rains followed by a sweltering heatwave have cut the yield this season by as much as 75 per cent.

Ujjal Saha, the president of Malda Mango Merchants Association, voiced his concerns over the mango yield being affected by the elements this year, saying, “Malda has already lost one-half of its total mango produce this year on account of unseasonal rain and the unrelenting heatwave that has prevailed in the district thereafter.”

“While normally, we post mango sales in the region of Rs 5 to 10 lakh, the figure is likely to be down to about Rs 2 lakh this season. We are staring at a significant loss this year,” said Ramesh, a worker at a mango orchard. Growers are urging the government for support during this lean harvest season.

Locals have also raised concerns over persistent river erosion and inadequate drinking water supply. The decreasing gap between the Ganga and Fulahar rivers has rendered the soil vulnerable to erosion.

Among the key issues dominating the campaign discourse are the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC), illegal immigration, and women’s safety.

In Malda Uttar, a triangular contest is on the cards, with sitting BJP MP Khagen Murmu seeking re-election against Congress’ Mostaque Alam and TMC’s Prasun Banerjee, a former police officer. Murmu has accused the TMC of taking money from people in lieu of jobs under MGNREGA.

In Malda Dakshin, Congress’ Isha Khan Choudhury faces challenges from BJP’s Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, known as the ‘Nirbhaya Didi’ of Kolkata, and TMC’s Shahnawaz Ali Raihan.

The TMC, which is part of the INDIA opposition alliance, did not go into a seat-sharing pact with Congress and the Left in Bengal.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the TMC won 34 seats in the state while the BJP had to settle for just 2. The CPI(M) won 2 seats, while the Congress bagged 4.

In the 2019 general elections, the TMC dropped to 22 seats while the BJP saw the lotus bloom in 18 seats. The Congress brought up the rear, winning just 2 seats.

Polling for six Lok Sabha seats in Bengal was held across the first two phases on April 19 and 26. Polling for the remaining parliamentary seats will be held on May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1.

(Inputs from ANI)

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