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In the name of the father

Congress has been literally pulling out all stops with the party bigwigs plunging into the campaign bandwagon for their nominee Abhijit Mukherjee, son of union finance minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee. Surojit Ghosh Hazra reports.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2011 14:51 IST
Surojit Ghosh Hazra

Nalhati, a small municipal town of the state, has emerged as prestige seat for the Congress in the ongoing electoral slugfest. The century-old party has been literally pulling out all stops with the party bigwigs plunging into the campaign bandwagon for their nominee Abhijit Mukherjee, son of Union finance minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee.

With Mukherjee’s son contesting the seat, the party mandarins and supporters are keen to ensure that Abhijit Mukherjee, a greenhorn in politics, returns a favourable mandate.

The groundwork for poll preparations for the prestige seat had begun months before the poll dates were announced. “We had pleaded with Pranab Mukherjee to let his son contest from Nalhati during Durga Puja last year at his native village Mirati. He eventually consented to our proposal. Now our only objective is to ensure that Abhijit Mukherjee wins this seat,” said Sayed Jimmi, Congress district general secretary.

The Nalhati nominee had organised a football tournament for tribal youths last December with the help of a local NGO and Sail, thereby announcing his intent to reach out to the people.

The Nalhati has traditionally not been a Congress stronghold. In the assembly polls in 2006, Congress

nominee Abdul Wali Mollah lost to Forward Bloc candidate Dipak Chatterjee by over 10,000 votes. Chatterjee garnered 58,787 votes, as opposed to Mollah’s 48,620.

However, the tide turned in the last Parliamentary elections, after popular actor and Trinamool nominee Satabdi Roy won the seat, bagging 66,044 votes as against 54,505 of her opponent, CPI(M) nominee and sabhadhipati of Birbhum zilla parishad Braja Mukherjee.

The change of electoral fortunes has made the Congress rank and file hopeful of a repeat performance in the assembly polls. Nalhati had been one of two seats of Birbhum district, which ally Trinamool had left for the Congress to contest. The district is home to 11 assembly constituencies.

“This seat is very important to us. Pranabda’s son is contesting this seat and an unfavourable verdict could

dent his image. We want to win the seat at any cost,” a district Congress leader had informed earlier. The Union finance minister himself has hit the ground running and has thrown his weight and clout behind his son’s campaign trail.