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CPI within 'smelling' distance of victory in Panskura West

Written by: Staff

Panskura (West Bengal), Apr 20 (UNI) The scent of victory is powerful for the Communists in this east Medinipur Assembly constituency, renowned for floriculture.

The constituency, going to polls in the second phase on April 22, is their happy hunting ground as the Communists have been winning it since the seventies.

Unlike west Medinipur, the hotbed of Maoist terrorism, east Medinipur is relatively peaceful, where many great national leaders fought British rule and contributed to the mainstream of Indian politics in post independence era.

However, with the Congress losing ground since the 70's, the Communists entrenched themselves as factionalism split the national party.

Now the Communist Party of India(CPI), which rules the roosts both in the local and national politics, represents the Lok Sabha too from this Parliament constituency in Bengal.

"I have no rival, neither have I an enemy. I only attempt to make more friends, even with my adversaries," saya CPI candidate Chittaranjan Das Thakur, who is aspiring to make a three-in-a-row entry into the 294-member state Assembly this time.

"The constituency was once represented by 'Double Minister', a name given to late Shyama Prasad Bhattacharjee, who held two portfolios, in the then Congress regime in the late sixties. The Communists had a tough time making inroads in this segment in the early seventies," recalled Thakur.

"In fact I have no issue, not even development. Development cannot be achieved by a single MLA unless he or she is supported by others like the opposition parties, municipality and policy makers," Thakur admitted.

"My struggle for the poeple is my strength," he replied to a query after puffing the end of a cigarette.

The Panskura west assembly segment has about 1,58,169 electors, including, 27 per cent minority voters and another 17 per cent tribals.

Narrow roads, improper sewerage system, inadequate power supply and above all growing unemployment are the burning issues which the opposition failed to capitalise on. And nothing deterred the 54-year-old CPI leader from making repeated entry into the assembly.

In fact, Thakur's winning margin in the past two elections has been increasing and this time he is determined to set a record. The seat has been represented by the CPI since the seventies.

The other candidates trying their luck are All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)'s Jahidul Islam Khan, Congress nominee Badal Pati and SUCI's Abdul Masud.

Thakur, a teacher of Ratulia High school, had secured 64,940 votes in 2001 election, about 6350 votes higher than his nearest rival Jahirul Khan(AITC).

But this time the AITC fielded his yonger bother Jahidul, a green horn, banking mainly on the charisma of Mamata Banerjee.

The 2004 Parliament election saw CPI's Gurudas Das Gupta secure a record 59.4 per cent votes from Panskura constituency, which still haunts strategists in the Opposition camps. Their campaign managers have been finding it difficult to make electors aware of the party candidates as traditional modes of electioneering are out of bounds owing to the new regulations of the Election Commission.

"We are trying our best to reach the people to acquaint our candiate to the voters on a shoe-string budget. It is almost impossible to canvas in all the 342 villages where our voters live," regretted a Trinamool Congress campaign manager, who was on cycle rally for Khan.

In fact tight regulation of the election code has forced the parties to keep low. "Any new method is scary," he admitted.

Absence of graffiti and posters in public places leaves one wondering as to who are the candidates.

Panskura West constituency, about 75 kms off Kolkata, looks like a deserted cluster of villages as the area goes to poll on Saturday.

The usual wall writings, festoons and banners were missing.

The political parties seemed apprehensive of violating the model code of conduct and waited for the EC directives.


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