Gyan Singh Sohanpal: At 91, Bengal’s granddaddy of polls ready for more

  • Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Mar 17, 2016 12:49 IST
Gyan Singh Sohanpal, 91-year-old, is the Congress candidate for Kharagpur Sadar in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district. (Samir Mondal / HT Photo )

He joined the Congress during the Quit India movement and contested polls for the first time in 1962 when Jawaharlal Nehru was in power.

The 91-year-old Gyan Singh Sohanpal, the Congress candidate for Kharagpur Sadar in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district, retains the appetite for more electoral battles — 54 years and 10 victories later.

He faced defeat in 1977, when the Left Front swept to power defeating the Congress. “There is so much work to do. Many projects are half-done and I have to complete them,” Sohanpal said on Wednesday.

“Everyone knows me in Kharagpur town and I know them too. They have supported me for years and seen my work,” said the sprightly old man popular as Chacha in his constituency and the political arena of Bengal.

Chacha, a former transport minister, was the obvious choice for the Congress in an assembly constituency where the ruling Trinamool Congress has fielded Ramaprasad Tiwari while the BJP’s candidate is its firebrand state president Dilip Ghosh.

“Whatever the party says I will do. I am a loyal soldier,” Sohanpal said. The key to his success is personal contact with the voters through a rigorous door-to-door campaign.

Chacha has cultivated his constituency since losing his first and second polls in 1962 and 1967. But in 1969, he tasted victory. “I won in 1971 too but the assembly was dissolved because of the Bangladesh war. I won again in 1972.”

Since 1982, he was never defeated in the Kharagpur Sadar seat of the railway town that Nehru once called mini-India. It is also known for the country’s first IIT.

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