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It’s voter knows best for Asim

Approaching the common man with humility is often considered the most effective way to counter the volley of allegations from the Opposition and more so when one is pitted against a formidable rival. Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri writes.

kolkata Updated: Apr 11, 2011 15:55 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri

Approaching the common man with humility is often considered the most effective way to counter the volley of allegations from the Opposition and more so when one is pitted against a formidable rival.

But for Asim Dasgupta, finance minister and CPI(M) candidate from Khardah in North 24-Parganas, the task is that much more difficult this time with his party seemingly facing the toughest election since 1977.

Dasgupta’s strategy is simple. Make an attempt to reach out to each and every voter in his constituency through an intensive door-to-door campaign to counter the campaigning style of his challenger and Trinamool Congress candidate Amit Mitra.

Having full knowledge that financial mishandling is the main projectile in the Ficci secretary general’s arsenal, Dasgupta is devoting a major part of his campaign time in explaining to his voters what would be the poverty eradication programmes of the eighth Left Front government.

Having mastered the art of altering his voice modulation depending on the person he is interacting with, Dasgupta achieved a perfect blend of the Western style of “shaking hands” and the traditional style of addressing a woman voter as Maa (mother).

“I personally feel that individual interaction with voters creates a sense of bonding between voters and the candidate concerned. I come to know of their grievances and expectations, which is not possible in high-profile street meetings or mega rallies. So, every day, I am trying to reach out to around at least 550 houses individually and on holidays like this, the number touches even 1,000,” Dasgupta told HT before starting his door-to-door campaign at Namajpara in Panihati Municipality area around 8.45 am on Sunday.

“Bhalo achho to Maa? (are you keeping fine)?” Dasgupta said as he was greeted by a middle-aged woman in Namaj Para. “Do you have anything to ask or tell me?” “Nothing,” replied the woman, slightly embarrassed but still smiling.

The next stop was the dilapidated hut of Amtab Ali, who sat in front of his house in wretched health, a broken face and days of unshaven beard. Probably, Dasgupta was aware that the Ali’s allegiance still rests with Left. So, he directly asked whether Ali was getting his old-age pension regularly. On receiving a negative answer, he called up Bandana Das, the councillor of Ward 35 in Panihati Municipality, and said, “Bandana, immediately enquire what is wrong and arrange for the payment through post office.”

The house of Samsun Nehar Bibi is where Dasgupta for the first time faced an aggressive reprisal. “Every time, you vote- seekers come and make promises. After that our condition remain the same. The roads are destroyed. My husband has died and I am running from pillar to post to get the widow pension. I do not have anything to say,” she told Dasgupta. From a typical rural appeal, Dasgupta returned to his economist persona when pointed out the alleged “financial mess” that the state government is going through is the principal point of attack by his opponent Mitra.

“What he is saying is because of his ignorance, which I have countered in the assembly as well as in my election speeches. Just as the state has the right to raise taxes, it has the right to take loans. The cumulative loan of state governments of Maharashtra and UP are much more than that of West Bengal. But are these state governments described as bankrupt? I replied to such allegations several times in the assembly and the opponents did not have any counter argument,” Dasgupta said.