Cooch Behar Lok Sabha Elections 2024: 8 Facts You Need to Know About India’s No.1 Constituency – News18


The Cooch Behar seat is one of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal and is located in the northern part of the state in close proximity to the famed ‘Chicken Neck’ corridor. This is a SC category seat, which means it’s reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. The constituency will vote in Lok Sabha elections in the first phase of polling on April 19 and the counting of votes will be held on June 4.

The Assembly segments that fall under this Lok Sabha constituency are Mathabhanga (currently held by BJP), Cooch Behar Uttar (BJP), Cooch Behar Dakshin (BJP), Sitalkuchi (BJP), Sitai (TMC), Dinhata (TMC) and Natabari (BJP).

Key Facts About the Cooch Behar (SC) Seat

This is the most important constituency from West Bengal going to polls in the first phase. The seat has a population of around 20 lakh. The deciding factor in this constituency is the Rajbanshi vote.

  1. As per the Election Commission of India’s list, the Cooch Behar (SC) seat is listed at No.1.
  2. The constituency witnessed large-scale political violence before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the 2021 Assembly elections and the 2023 Panchayat elections.
  3. The CISF firing incident during the Assembly polls at Sitalkuchi in 2021, which killed four youths and, subsequently, created a massive political dust-up bears testimony to the vulnerability to poll-related violence in this Bangladesh-bordering district.
  4. Once considered a fortress of the Left Front partner Forward Bloc, which won the seat for an unbroken 32 years from 1977 to 2009, Cooch Behar constituency currently remains a BJP stronghold, with five of the seven Assembly segments in its kitty despite TMC’s landslide victory in the 2021 state polls.
  5. There have been two major scuffles between TMC and BJP in Cooch Behar in a matter of two weeks. The TMC had called a 24-hour bandh after violence erupted in presence of state minister for North Bengal Development Udayan Guha and sitting MP and Union minister Nitish Pramanik. The Cooch Behar SDPO Dilip Mitra and two other TMC supporters sustained wounds. The rivalry between Guha and Pramanik has kept Cooch Behar’s Dinhata on edge since 2019.
  6. A faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) headed by Bangshibadan Barman has decided to support TMC. Barman has called on his faction’s members and their supporters to stand with the TMC in Cooch Behar.
  7. Mamata Banerjee has made many moves to woo the Rajbanshi community, including the creation of a development and welfare board for Rajbanshis, two language academies, installation of the statue of Chila Roy – a fierce fighter of Cooch Behar royal family who created the Narayani battalion – and recognition of around 200 Rajbanshi-medium schools.
  8. The BJP continues to be the dominant player in North Bengal. However, the TMC’s rising status is a threat and could cut vote share for the saffron party in the Lok Sabha elections.

2019 Election Results and 2024 Candidates

The sitting Cooch Behar (SC) MP is BJP’s Nisith Pramanik. Belonging to the Rajbanshi community, Pramanik had won this seat by a margin of more than 50,000 votes in the 2019 general elections.

The Rajbanshis here account for more than 35% of the population.

This time Pramanik is being challenged by fellow Rajbanshi, Trinamool Congress’s Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia.

Speaking to News18, Pramanik said there would be no division of the community’s vote this time. “I am a Rajbanhsi and I can proudly say the BJP has taken Rajbanshi’s to Parliament. The BJP has also made Rajbanshi Raja Ananta Maharaj a Rajya Sabha MP. Therefore, all Rajbanshi vote will go to the saffron camp. There will be no division.”

TMC candidate Basuniya, meanwhile, said Pramanik would not get the Rajbanshi votes this time. “People are not fools. They will not repeat their mistake,” he said.

Who Stands Where

Here’s a look at the current political situation in Cooch Behar and how the major parties in the fray are placed.

Trinamool Congress

The TMC appears determined to wrest this Lok Sabha seat from the BJP. The party has devised a new campaign strategy for the Lok Sabha elections in Cooch Behar. A 21-member core committee has been constituted to oversee all the party’s election activities and strategies in the constituency.

On March 31 and April 1, several parts of North Bengal were hit by a cyclonic storm that brought with it strong winds and thunderstorms. This resulted in several people suffering injuries even as material damage was seen in Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts. TMC candidate Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia along with TMC Cooch Behar president Abhijit Dey Bhowmik visited the disaster-affected areas. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee soon followed suit.

TMC is making a point to focus on North Bengal this time round. In 2021, though the party came to power with a resounding victory in the state, it lagged behind BJP and secured only 23 of the 54 Assembly seats in the region. BJP, on the other hand, secured 30 seats.

However, the TMC’s fortunes took a turn for the better in the beginning of 2022, as the party won all the civic bodies in the region. Also, the party has performed well in the rural polls and had won the Dhupguri Assembly by-poll last year.


The BJP continues to be the dominant player in North Bengal. Cooch Behar BJP had withstood the TMC juggernaut in 2021 Assembly elections too. Despite the TMC claims of subsequently gaining ground here, the fact remains that voters are increasingly more conscious about either voting for or against Narendra Modi.

The BJP has been able to get the Minority Morcha of Cooch Behar to take out a spirited rally in Dinhata in support of Nisith Pramanik. A sizable crowd of Muslims were seen holding BJP flags and chanting “Allahu Akbar”, videos of which subsequently went viral on social media.

Left and the Congress

The Left parties and Congress have each fielded their own candidates in Cooch Behar. The Congress has fielded Priya Roy Choudhury as its candidate, while the Forward Bloc has nominated Nitish Chandra Roy.

The fall of the Left in the seat has been dramatic. The constituency was once considered a fortress of the Forward Bloc, which won the seat for an unbroken 32 years. But in 2019 Lok Sabha elections its vote share fell to just 3%. For context, in 2014, Forward Bloc was runner up in the constituency with 33% vote share.

Both Congress and the Forward Bloc remain marginal players here. It’s now a direct face-off between TMC and BJP.

Key Factors and Election Issues

Poll Violence

The constituency is witnessing a high-octane campaign where violence is not particularly hard to come by. Both the TMC and BJP are accusing each other of perpetrating violence against not just party cadre, but senior leaders as well. There have been two major scuffles between TMC and BJP in Cooch Behar in a matter of two weeks.

The Rajbanshi Vote

The Cooch Behar constituency consists of 35% of the Rajbanshi population, and in 2019, a major chunk of their votes went to Nisith Pramanik. The BJP hopes to get the same response this time around, but the TMC is now focussing on ensuring that the Rajbanshi community backs it.

A faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) headed by Bangshibadan Barman has decided to support TMC. Importantly, this is the biggest faction which has a considerable support base in North Bengal, especially among the Rajbanshi community.

The BJP, meanwhile, is hopeful that the other major faction of Rajbanshis could be swung in its favour by giving a Rajya Sabha seat to Ananta Maharaj. However, Maharaj has perceptively maintained distance from the BJP of late alleging “lack of importance in the party”. This has led to Pramanik approaching Ananta Maharaj and also ensuring he was present for the incumbent MP’s nomination filing.

Rohingya Muslims

Cooch Behar, by virtue of being in North Bengal, has a strong sense of unease towards Rohingya Muslims. While people have largely learnt to live with Bangladeshis, many of whom have been staying here for decades, the influx of Rohingyas remains a concern for people in North Bengal. In the 2024 elections, this could be a big factor.


The joy here at the inauguration of the Ram Temple in UP’s Ayodhya is palpable. Hindus say they can more strongly assert their identity here now. Coupled with BJP’s promise of NRC and its campaign against TMC’s “culture” of granting Aadhaar cards and voter IDs to illegal immigrants, the saffron party has been able to set an alternative narrative across the state, which is also visible in Cooch Behar.


Source link

Back to top button