Among the four districts where assembly elections will be held in the fourth phase on May 3, all eyes are fixed on a particular constituency in Burdwan, a part of which goes to polls along with Howrah, Hooghly and East Midnapore.
Voters in Burdwan South will decide the fate of industries and commerce minister Nirupam Sen, the man who took the lead in the government's fresh industrial drive after the Left Front came to power for the seventh time in 2006. Sen is contesting the seat for the third time in succession. Earlier, he contested from Burdwan South in 1987 but took a respite from electoral politics in 1991 and took charge of the party's organisational affairs till 2001.
If one chooses to discount the strong Trinamool wind, then Burdwan South is one of the safest of Left bastions in Bengal since 1967. It was only in 1962 that Radharani Mohtab from the royal family of Burdwan won the seat on a Congress ticket. Except in 1991, the Marxists have always secured more than 50% votes.
Change took place in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll. In this assembly segment, CPI(M) candidate Sahidul Haq Left was trailing Trinamool's Nargis Begum, signalling a change.
In the municipal election that followed the assembly election, the party lost such long-held municipalities as Memary , Guskara, Kalna and Dhainhat.
Banking on that, the Opposition is all set to change the political history of Burdwan South and Sen is toiling hard to retain the seat. He started his campaign much before the Congress and Trinamool announced their alliance and declared Rabiranjan Chattopadhayay as their candidate.
Changing the old campaign strategy, Sen is stressing on door-to-door visits The commerce and industries minister is visiting slums as well as the new housing complexes. The CPI(M) Burdwan district committee is leaving no stone unturned to reach out to every voter. With unemployment and lack of civic amenities being raging issues, the Marxists cannot afford to take chances.
Sen is confident of victory. "I will win, there is no doubt about that. During my campaign, I got positive response from the people," he said.
Trinamool had a tough time selecting its candidate against Sen. Initially, the name of Swarup Datta, a doctor, was announced. But local Trinamool leaders and supporters opposed the decision and academic Chattopadhyay was nominated. Though he now lives in Dum Dum near Kolkata, the professor from Burdwan University is popular among locals.
Trinamool leaders are also going door to door with their candidate. To give Sen a tough time, Chattopadhyay is often found campaigning on a horse and at times on foot.