CPM's battle for prestige
Arambagh, a subdivision of Hooghly district, came to the spotlight after CPI(M) candidate Anil Basu won this Lok Sabha seat in 2004 with a landslide mandate of 5.92 lakh votes — the highest winning margin in any parliamentary seat across West Bengal. Sandip Chowdhury reports.india Updated: Apr 30, 2011 18:09 IST
Arambagh, a subdivision of Hooghly district, came to the spotlight after CPI(M) candidate Anil Basu won this Lok Sabha seat in 2004 with a landslide mandate of 5.92 lakh votes — the highest winning margin in any parliamentary seat across West Bengal.
Politics in this red bastion has traditionally been a one-sided affair and the Left continues to hold its own despite a sharp decline in the vote margin to around two lakh in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. One of the reasons that could have possibly attributed to the dip in margin, was that the CPI(M) candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections did not wield a similar clout and influence as the party state committee member Anil Basu.
Binoy Dutta, a CPI(M) heavyweight and a district secretariat member, had represented the seat thrice consecutively, but is not contesting the polls this time in the light of the seat’s reservation post delimitation.
Going by the statistics, Arambagh has never voted the CPI(M) with less than 50% of its total vote share since 1987, the turning point for Left politics in this sub-division. It had been the lowest in 1987 with 54.75% and highest with 78.95% in 2001.
However, the CPI(M) suffered a relative meltdown in the assembly segment in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, with the margin of votes going down to 47,660. The same had touched 61,782 in the 2006 assembly polls with a vote share of 62.26%.
But the Left seems confident. "We promise to not only retain the Lok Sabha margin but increase it to 50,000 plus this time in Arambagh," Binoy Dutta, sitting MLA from Arambagh, told HT sitting in the his zonal party office.
Echoing Dutta, the poll manager for the Arambagh assembly constituency and zonal secretary of the CPI(M), Mozammel Hossain, said, "We have no poll fight with the Trinamool Congress. Our fight is only to retain our previous vote bank."
After the remapping of the constituency post delimitation, the segment now includes 18 wards of the Arambagh Municipality and 13 gram panchayats comprising Arandi 1, Arandi 2, Batanal, Gaurhati 1, Gaurhati 2, Madhabpur, Mayapur 1, Mayapur 2, Malaypur 1, Malaypur 2, Salepur 1, Salepur 2 and Tirol under the Arambag community development block.
Of the 18 wards of the Arambagh municipality, the CPI(M) had won in 12 while the Trinamool got six wards for the first time since 1981, the year of the first municipal polls. Despite the pro-Trinamool wave sweeping across the state, the CPI(M) has managed to hold onto the 13 gram panchayats under the Arambagh assembly constituency.
Krishna Chandra Santra, the Trinamool nominee from Arambagh, is confident of riding the pro-change wave. He said power and water supply and quest for better healthcare facilities at the sub-divisional hospital would feature among the poll planks this time.
Asit Malik, the CPI (M) candidate, is a mere face and the outgoing MLA is managing the poll politics. Basu, who has been forced to lie low in the wake of the storm over his jibe at Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, said that big cutouts and hoardings of the Trinamool chief would not ring in the winds of change. "There is no wave of change in Arambagh. People have seen the reign of terror in the late 90s and post Lok Sabha polls. Their character is now an open secret and people have no faith in them," he said.