Haldia, Apr 20 (UNI) The CPI(M) is training to break the jinx in east Medinipur's Mahishadal constituency which the Congress has been traditionally winning except on two occasions.
The region has the enviable history of giving the country its first Nationalist government in British India.
Traditionally, voters here have preferred an anti-Communist candidate, except on two occasions in the 1980s.
The Left parties, which are unitedly making effort to usher in the seventh Left Front government with a bigger margin, are perhaps eyeing this seat as a bonus.
Mahishadal goes to polls in the second phase elections on April 22. At stake are the fate of Tamalika Ponda Seth of CPI(M), Buddhadeb Bhowmick(All India Trinamool Congress) and Congress's Sukumar Bera.
Already heavyweight politicians like Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and a host of Left Front leaders have wooed voters in favour of Ms Seth, a first timer in assembly election and wife of CPI(M) MP Laxman Seth.
The opposition, which fought the 2001 polls unitedly and clinched a victory for former bureaucrat-turned-politician Dipak Ghosh(AITC), is now a divided house. Besides, shifting Ghosh to Jadavpur to challenge the Chief Minister, had compounded the problem for the opposition camp.
Poll analysts do not want to hazard a guess on whether the AITC can retain the seat or the CPI(M) will break the jinx.
''Failure to forge an alliance this time will surely divide the opposition votes but that will not guarantee a victory for the CPI(M) nominee, who is also chairperson of Haldia Municipality,'' say AITC and Congress candidates. Their ''one point agenda'' was to tell voters not to elect an ''outsider'' and keep the Congress tradition intact.
The Trinamool Congress has fielded 53-year-old Bhowmick, whose father, late Dr Gobindra Chandra Bhowmick, was associated with Netaji Subash Chandra Bose. For the locals he is a social activist and ''son of the soil''. The Opposition has launched a whisper campaign telling the voters to choose between a ''local and outsider''.
There are about 1.5 lakh voters, of whom about 25 per cent are minority.
''The electorate will not divide votes to elect an outsider,'' AITC general secretary Saikh Ahmed Ali claimed.
Before independence, India had nationalist governments in three regions--Balia in UP, Sitahara in Maharastra and Tamralipta, former name of Medinipur.
The new generation has not forgotten the struggles of their ancestors and kept voting the Congress except twice--in 1982 and 1987.
In 2001, Ghosh won by 7898 votes and AITC poll managers feel the margin would go up in favour of the new candidate, who was Sabhapati of Mahishadal panchayat samity for five years.
AITC supremo Mamata Banerjee also campaigned for Bhowmick and said the shifting of candidate was for a 'good cause' as Mahishadal gave her a fighter(Ghosh), who was 'given a task' to defeat the chief minister.
Congress's Sukumar Bera, who fought an unsuccessful election from this constituency before the last polls, said, ''I am optimistic that opposition votes will not be divided despite failure to forge an alliance.'' That there was no heavyweight campaigner for Bera left many thinking that the Congress and AITC have a tacit understanding to keep the oppostion vote intact.
However, the situation was so fluid that many believed that both AITC and CPI(M) candidates were walking on thin ice.
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