The clash of spent stars from the film world is the election highlight in a jaded industrial belt

Moon Moon Sen, veteran actor and TMC candidate from AsansolIANS
  • Asansol and Durgapur will go to vote in the phase 4 of the general elections.
  • From Asansol, there’s star studded fight between Babul Supriyo (BJP) and Moon Moon Sen (TMC).
  • In Durgapur, BJP is trying hard to win a seat with party stalwart SS Ahluwalia.
As India begins its fourth phase of polling, two of not just West Bengal but India’s earliest industrial destinations head to vote.

Asansol and Durgapur, the cities which still hold memoirs from the old school British era, used to be the economy’s powerhouses on their own. The cities are home to two steel plants of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) – Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) and IISCO Steel Plant (ISP), and a subsidiary – Alloy Steel Plant in Durgapur – some of the oldest steel plants and largest manufacturers of steel in the country. IISCO is the country’s oldest integrated steel plant.

The SAIL plants have been the focus of modernization in the state. But the Indian government had plans to sell the Alloy Steel Plant as a part of a strategic disinvestment. However, the sale has currently been deferred.

As economic fortunes fade, the highlight of the 2019 election in this industrial belt, with joblessness and hopelessness, is the clash between two spent stars from the film world.

In Asansol, incumbent MP Babul Supriyo from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who won by a majority of 70,000 votes, this time faces Bengal’s favourite – Moon Moon Sen from the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

TMC has never won a seat from Asansol. Sen, who entered politics during the last general elections in 2014, had defeated CPI(M)’s Basudeb Acharia from Bankura, a constituency from where Acharia had won 9 times.

Meanwhile, in Durgapur the sitting MP from TMC Mamtaz Sanghamita faces a tough competition from SS Ahluwalia, BJP’s long standing leader who currently has a seat in the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling.

And there’s also a lot at stake. Asansol has been a victim of communal violence, after riots erupted in March 2018 on Ram Navami. Even today, the violence is at the core of political campaigning in the city.

The other issue that bothers the region is jobs. Illegal mining, which is common in the area, has been put to a stop during the elections, putting thousands of miners out of jobs. According to a PTI report, these miners will be voting NOTA as a sign of protest.

Sail’ing in history

Famous for being the industrial zones of West Bengal, the two cities, which are less than 50 kilometres away from each other, house two steel plants of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) – Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) and IISCO Steel Plant (ISP). And they are rich in history too. Queen Elizabeth had visited the Durgapur Steel Plant in 1961.

While the Durgapur Steel Plant has a production capacity of 1.8 Million Ton Per Annum (MTPA), the IISCO Steel Plant has a capacity for production of 4.26 lakh tonnes of saleable steel and 2.54 lakh tonnes of pig iron annually, according to the official website.

From then to now, the two steel plants have been a part of many historical things in India – including being one of the biggest suppliers of steel to the defence in India. The Durgapur steel plant recently made news for supplying steel to the Indian army to make the first homegrown artillery gun Dhanush.

Asansol and Durgapur are also home to many other private industries’ manufacturing units. In 2007, Asansol also found mentions in multiple global reports to be named one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

See Also:
Elections 2019: Voting begins in West Bengal amid simmering communal tensions that have polarised the state’s population
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