After a day’s break, thanks to the World T20 face-off between the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams at the Eden Gardens on Saturday, the third Sunday after the election dates were announced saw poll fever catching up across the state.
The show-stealer, however, remained the Trinamool Congress, with the opposition parties lagging much behind, just like on the first two Sundays since March 4 when the Election Commission declared the six-phase, sevenday schedule for Bengal.
The largest crowd turned up at chief minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee’s procession from Shalimar to Pilkhana in Howrah on Sunday afternoon. She was accompanied by Vaishali Dalmiya, the party’s candidate from Bally, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, the Trinamool nominee from Howrah North, and Rajib Banerjee, party candidate from Domjur.
On the eastern side of Howrah, across the Hooghly in Kolkata, Firhad Hakim, urban development minister and Trinamool candidate from Kolkata Port, hit the door-to-door campaign trail. Playing down the Narada sting operation, he was trying his best to convince people about it all being an elaborate conspiracy.
Going on the offensive, Hakim said, “It’s clearly a political conspiracy. When a person is up for the top job to do something good for the people, for the welfare of the society, he or she is bound to grow enemies who will adopt all means to bring him or her down. Rajiv Gandhi, too, was accused in the Bofors scam but we all know that he was given a clean chit later. This (Narada) too shall pass…”
Talking about the port area, Hakim said, “The biggest issue here is development. I prefer to go door-to-door, but don’t get much time to do so.”
Narada echoed in the campaign pitch of Saugata Roy as well. Roy was busy campaigning for finance minister Amit Mitra in Khardah constituency of North 24-Parganas.
On the other side of the political divide, Sujan Chakraborty of the CPI(M) hit the streets early in the day in Jadavpur in Kolkata’s southern suburbs.
Raising the heat over Narada, the former Lok Sabha MP said the sting operation “has only helped people see more clearly now”. “When poor people see the footage of such Trinamool biggies stashing away money in their closets, they understand whom they had voted for. People wanted a change in 2011. But now they have realized their mistake and will do what needs to be done,” Chakraborty said.
The day also saw the first incident of campaign-related violence in Kolkata. CPI(M) activists campaigning for Rajib Biswas in Beliaghata were allegedly attacked by Trinamool cadres. One of them had to be admitted to hospital. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh also kick-started his campaign in Kharagpur constituency in West Midnapore during the day. So did Rabiranjan Chattopadhyay of the Trinamool in Bardhaman South.