Time: 10am; Place: Rabindranagar crossing in Dum Dum. 'Catch' he said with a smile from atop the open jeep. As he tossed the red rose, dozen pairs of young hands went up to the air and one lucky pair grasped it. More roses were tossed and as the faces of children and their mothers lit up with smiles.
The outspoken state housing minister Gautam Deb, used red roses for a human touch, which seems to be the focal point during his campaign as he connects with the people of Dum Dum. The constituency, a turf once considered a Red bastion, is preparing for one of the toughest battles in the assembly elections.
"My house is in south Sinthi. I belong to this area. All these people are beside me," said a confident Deb, pointing at the crowd that had gathered to meet him.
Deb, who as the state housing minister was targeted by Trinamool for the Rajarhat-New Town land acquisition issue, is known for his outspoken nature. He is considered to be a hardcore party member and the front man when it comes to taking on Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.
But people on Sunday met a different Deb. He was all smiles and was ever eager to woo the voters with his sensitive approach.
The yellow open jeep, decked with red flags and the party symbol printed on its bonnet, was followed by a tableau that started for the campaign from rail gate number 2 in Dum Dum Cantonment. Over 1,000 workers gathered as Deb, along with party strongman from North 24-Parganas Amitava Nandy, climbed up the jeep. Deb's road show traversed the lanes of Subhasnagar and Dum Dum Cantonment.
The ash-coloured cloth hat that Deb wore, did not quite resemble former transport minister Subhas Chakraborty's spotless white hat, even as the party is trying to come out of his shadow. The death of Chakraborty, a Left strongman in Dum Dum area, eroded the party's base, so much so that Trinamool's Sougata Roy won the Lok Sabha elections by defeating CPIM's Amitava Nandy here.
"I don't consider Trinamool weak. They control two municipalities in Dum Dum. But I have confidence on people," Deb said.
Some of the slogans chanted by partymen on handheld mikes were on Rajarhat and employment generation. "What Deb did for Rajarhat is for everyone to see. He generated employment there through various hubs including IT," said Shibshankar Majumdar, a CPI(M) worker in the rally.
Youth workers led the rally and the road show on Sunday. They also spoke to the people on the way. The senior members walked behind them. The road show travelled across Railgate, Subhasnagar, Subhasnagar Natun Bazar, Rabindranagar, Kathaltolla, Goruipara Pramodnagar and other areas in Dum Dum.
"We are depending on the youths. They are approaching the voters and talking to them," said a veteran CPI(M) member.
The party workers are quite optimistic about Deb's victory against Trinamool candidate Bratya Basu. "I will have to leave for North Bengal today for campaign. However, I will return as soon as possible," said Deb, as he ended his road show. He didn't sound tire but ready for more.