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Outsider Halim bank on development plank for Entally seat

Written by: Staff
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Kolkata, Apr 24(UNI) With an immigrant political heavyweight seeking to refurbish his electoral career, the Entally constituency in central Kolkata is under sharp focus in the third phase of polling in West Bengal.

Taking on his Congress and Trinamool Congress rivals, state Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim will contest the polls from this constituency this time on CPI(M) ticket leaving behind the scary memory of his wafer-thin victory from Amdanga in 2001.

Mr Halim, a five-time winner from Amdanga in North Twenty Four Parganas district, scrapped past his Congress rival last time with a margin of 64 votes--the flashpoint of a fast eroding support base--that prompted the CPI(M) to put its prize candidate on to a safer seat.

Crossing swords with Mr Halim will be Congress candidate Khalid Ebadulla and Mr Muzaffar Khan of the Trinamool Congress.

With 55 per cent of the population belonging to the Muslim community, the CPI(M) won the seat in 2001 when its candidate Mohammad Salim defeated Mr Sulatan Ahmed of the Trinamool Congress.

Between 1982 and 1996 this mixed-populated constituency had witnessed tantalising fates with Left and anti-Left candidates winning alternatively.

However, after Mr Salim was elected to Parliament in 2004, the CPI(M) scored once again in the byelection by getting elected Mr Abu Sufian elected to the assembly by a whooping 51,000 votes to consolidate its dominance in the constituency.

Assuming the role of Assembly Speaker for 25 years, Mr Halim had been a very important member of his party with his Parliamentary acumen and the ability to weather through any storm kicked up in the Assembly. He is also the first Indian President of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association--a feat, he achieved last year.

On the other hand, Congress nominee Khalid Ebadullah is a businessman while Mr Muzaffar Khan, a former BJP state leader-turned- to-Trinamool, is a lawyer by profession.

Though the seat appears to be a safe heaven for the CPI(M), the party is taking no chances to ensure a facile victory for Mr Halim, who is miles ahead of his opponents in mass contact that he started immediately after announcement of candidate list by the Left Front.

Beaded with swanky shops and glum slums, Entally is both the rich and poor man's seat, where the razzle dazzle of Park street is set in contrast of Banderpatti and Darapara.

The stark opposites have swelled the wind in Muzaffar Khan's sails, who hope to cause an upset like 1987 and 1996, but Halim is confident that the development plank will bear red cherries on April 27.

UNI KDG BA AKP0956

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