Around 20 men and women sat under a plastic shade inside a park on Sunday. The venue is a low-income government housing estate in Kankurgachi. Meera Bhattacharjee, wife of the chief minister , sat on a plastic chair, flanked by CPI(M) candidate Rupa Bagchi, who was on a small hand held microphone. Bagchi's mode of transport, an auto rickshaw, was parked nearby.
About half a kilometre away, a long procession of people, motorbikes decked up with balloons, horse drawn carriage, and tableaux, led by an open jeep passed. Trinamool Congress candidate Sadhan Pandey, his daughter Sreya and Bollywood actress Mahima Choudhury were waving at the people. Pandey known for his colourful rallies was hitting the road. The mikes blared his and Mamata Banerjee's name.
Pandey, a six-time MLA, is taking on sitting MLA Baghchi. The Left candidate defeated Trinamool's Paresh Pal in the last assembly elections. Pandey is Burtolla MLA from 1985 to 2011.
The odds do not favour Bagchi though Pandey's Burtolla constituency has been abolished after delimitation. Manicktala constituency consists of four wards from Burtolla.
Out of the eight wards, six are with Trinamool, which is a cause of worry for Bagchi. In the Lok Sabha polls in 2009, Trinamool's Sudip Bandopadhyay got a lead of 18, 272 from Burtolla against Md Salim of CPI(M).
"I have been six times MLA from Burtolla. I have done lots of developmental work. I am sure to win. The people are with Mamata Banerjee," said Pandey. "I have cancelled the dates for my film and modelling assignments to campaign for my father. We want change and change will come," said daughter Shreya who has been campaigning for father.
The CPI(M) is however fighting back. "It is the Left who gave you security and stability. Now you do not have to wait anxiously for your husband to return. Parties are harping for change, which will bring anarchy," said Meera Bhattacharjee. "You all know me. I am a girl from your home. I have brought development. You see me everyday. But do you see your Trinamool MP? You all realise the pinch of price rise," said Bagchi, who is also the councillor from ward number 32.
It is touring the constituency, meeting people and conducting small group meetings, which seems to be Bagchi's weapon. She has also geared up the party machinery and even CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat campaigned for Bagchi.