So what if he started his political career a year before Lata Mangeshkar started singing for films, or a good 22 years before India’s largest communist party was even born?
At 92, after 10 assembly victories from the same constituency, Congress candidate Gyan Singh Sohanpal retains the appetite of a debutant. “I am contesting since fundamental questions of saving democratic institutions are involved. But where are the opponents?” he asked struggling to conceal his disdain as he spoke with HT at his home — a red-brick single storey railway quarter.
The Left has also thrown in its might behind Chacha, as Sohanpal is fondly known. In fact, Chacha remains dismissive even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s March 27 rally in support of BJP candidate, who is sure emerging victorious.
“The breeze in my favour has turned into a storm,” said BJP candidate Dilip Ghosh, also the party’s state president.
The ruling party candidate is no less upbeat. “The people of this constituency have almost always voted for a party that is going to win the polls overall,” said Ramaprasad Tewari, 62, who migrated from the BJP to Trinamool in 2006.
Just a day before Monday’s poll, Kharagpur looks like a political Roshomon, the Akira Kurosawa film where every perspective of the same incident looks equally probable.
“BJP is fast becoming unpopular with the middle class due to its economic policies. Trinamool is down with Narada fever. Our candidate is one of the most recognisable political faces,” remarked Anit Baran Mondal, CPI(M) district committee member.
The styles of campaign of the candidates are distinctly different. While BJP and Trinamool bank of high-voltage meetings, Chacha has campaigned door-to-door.
Will the PM’s campaign make a difference to BJP fortunes?
“Only marginally,” remarked Tewari. “He may attract a few hardline Hindutva votes. Nothing beyond,” said Mondal.