This post-delimitation is probably the only constituency in East Midnapore district where the poll battle is neck and neck.
Neither the Trinamool Congress candidate Siuli Saha nor CPI(M) veteran Nityananda Bera can confidently proclaim a comfortable winning margin.
Barring the name and number of voters, post-delimitation has not changed the basic nature of the earlier Sutahata constituency, from where Bera is the two-time MLA.
The earlier Sutahata constituency constituted of areas under the Haldia Municipal Corporation and village panchayats. The only post-delimitation difference between the earlier Sutahata constituency and the present Haldia (SC) is that some areas of the pre-delimitation seat have been transferred to Mahishadal.
The changing poll statistics from 2006 state assembly elections to 2009 Lok Sabha polls is worrying Bera and Saha. In 2006, Bera got elected from Sutahata by a margin of 37,407 votes. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Haldia gave a lead of just 2,600 votes to winning Trinamool MP from Tamluk, Subhendu Adhikary and a margin lowest of all other assembly constituencies in Tamluk.
According to locals former CPI(M) MP from Tamluk, Lakshman Seth, is keeping a low profile and Bera is handling the campaign alone. One the other hand, local Trinamool workers are irked that Mamata Banerjee cannot spare time for Haldia as she is concentrating on Nandigram. Speaking to HT, Bera said 2,600 lead could easily be overturned. “Remember, the 2,600 winning margin for Trinamool came in 2009, when there was a wave in their favour. Things have changed and the winds of change are blowing in the opposite direction. The corruption in the Trinamool controlled zilla parishad has angered voters. The party has also set up a mafia raj in Haldia’s industrial zone, with extortion and looting of trucks. Trinamool is also not a united front and they have many unions in factories,” he said.
The Trinamool candidate also does not inspire confidence. “In 2006, she contested from Birbhum, in 2009 from Bankura and she stays in Kolkata. I am focusing on intensive door-to-door campaign, where I am getting a good response,” said Bera, a retired primary schoolteacher, who had been associated with Left politics since his school days.
Speaking to HT at the chief election office of Trinamool at Durgachak in the heart of Kolkata, Saha refuted Bera’s theory on of an outsider. “I was born in Nandigram where I did my schooling and college. Since college days, I have been associated with Chatra Prarishad and since the formation of Trinamool I was associated with it. It was only after my marriage that I shifted to Kolkata with my husband, who is a doctor,” she said.
When asked about her priority after getting elected, she said, “The CPI(M) leaders and cadres have terrorised everybody. There will be no return to the bad days. I will also ensure that industrial workers get a decent wage. Marxists are conspiring with the management of companies.”
Does she want to be in the state Cabinet? “I will listen to what my leader tells me,” she said.