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Makeover CM in mandate test in shifting sands of Jadavpur

Written by: Staff
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Kolkata, Apr 25 (UNI) Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, a quintessential Bangali-babu who brought about winds of change in the corridors of power of the Left Bastion with progressive thoughts and bold reforms, will seek a mandate for the fourth successive term from the Jadavpur constituency on April 27.

Seeking re-election from Jadavpur, a one-time red citadel with a fast changing demographic face, perhaps best symbolises the tight rope walk of Mr Bhattacharjee for a symbiosis between the past and the present, between Marxism and capitalism.

A winner from the constituency for fourth successive terms, Mr Bhattachajree can afford to enjoy a level of comfort with his newly acquired stardom in the political arena, but the character of his constituency, fast becoming upwardly mobile from the proletariat of the sixties and seventies is an indicator of the state's urban psyche that the CPI(M) can hardly ignore.

Pitted against Mr Bhattacharjee are former bureaucrat Dipak Ghosh of the Trinamool Congress and Congress candidate Omprakash Mishra, a Jadavpur University lecturer, who hardly match his weight and charisma, but still expect to give a good fight.

The nomination of Mr Ghosh, who once served the Left Front Government during Mr Bhattacharjee's tenure as Home Minister, is being seen as a gamble by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, perhaps hoping for a repeat of the upset, that she caused by defeating Mr Somnath Chatterjee in the 1984 Parliament elections from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency.

The Left, who had built a solid base in this refugee-dominated area ever since the partition of the country, had never tasted defeat in Assembly elections from Jadavpur which was made an Assembly constituency in 1967. However, things changed post 1984.

With a majority of the local population becoming solvent and portions of the constituency turning posh, the mandates in successive elections were never as partisan as they were before.

The vote share of the CPI(M) declined to 55 per cent in the last elections from 65 per cent in 1987.

The CPI(M) also faced a split before the 2001 Assembly elections when a section of partymen, led by Mr Saifuddin Chowdhury and Mr Samir Putatundi, formed the Party for Democratic Socialism taking away a clutch of CPI(M) votes.

However, both Mr Bhattacharjee and his party are confident about winning the seat this time as well, thanks to the Chief Minister's wide acceptance and the changing outlook of the CPI(M).

But the Trinamool Congress has banked on a campaign alleging that the Chief Minister had done nothing for the constituency, including supply of drinking water, renovating sewerage system and providing employment to the youth. The Congress, on the other hand, stressed on the alleged lack of development of the state, hoping to woo voters.

Facing the challenge, Mr Bhattacharjee has also given the slogan of more development and more employment. ''The job the Government has started. But for development to be sustained we need your support,'' he said at several rallies in the area.

The dream the Chief Minister is selling may or may not have buyers but the battle, for sure, is the cynosure of all eyes.

UNI KDG BA RR KN1057

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