A sitting minister in the Left Front government is seeking anti-incumbency votes in poll-bound Bengal! Strange as it may sound, this is the message that minority affairs and madrasa education minister Abdus Sattar conveyed to voters in Amdanga assembly constituency of North 24-Parganas at the time of campaigning.
"The assembly polls are marked against the corrupt and anti-people UPA 2 government at the Centre. These polls are meant for answers against the corrupt Trinamool Raj, which is in power in the panchayats," said Sattar.
The smile never fades from his face. The scorching sun could at the most add a few creases on his forehead. A red cap seemed enough protection for him. However, could the creases be attributed to some unnerving statistics related to his constituency as opposed to the scorching sun above?
In the 2008 panchayat polls, the Trinamool won nine of the 11 village panchayats in the Amdanga assembly constituency. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool candidate Dinesh Trivedi, contesting from Barrackpore parliamentary constituency, got a lead of about 21,000 votes from Amdanga.
But Sattar campaigned hard with party state secretary Biman Bose, inaugurating a cycle rally, featuring a few thousand participants on bicycles with supporters on bikes and small trucks displaying party flags, in tow. Ramesh Dandapat, a worker un a garage, drew special attention with a haircut resembling the CPI(M)'s poll symbol. Even Tollywood pitched in with Badshah Moitra and Ushashi Chakraborty, daughter of CPI(M) central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty.
Amdanga has traditionally been a prestige seat for the Left Front. Hashim Abdul Halim, outgoing Speaker of the assembly and the country's longest serving in the chair, represented this seat from 1977 to 2001, when cracks in this Red fort first appeared with Halim winning the polls by a mere 64 votes.
Now with the Sachar committee report having highlighted the poor living standards of the minority community across the state and the Left seemingly losing support among the minorities, Amdanga, a minority-dominated constituency and being represented by the minorities development minister himself, continues to remain one of the prestigious seats for the Left.
"They are crying hell over the Sachar Committee report. But the report was for the entire country. We wish to know of the Centre what they have they done for the minorities with the exception of forming one committee after another?" said Sattar.
Recent polling trends however say that it would need a miraculous swing of votes for Sattar to win. But he remains upbeat about his chances. "The eighth Left Front government is just a matter of days!" says Sattar, the smile still intact.