He knows the turf is tough this time. The area is also new for him. So an admission of mistakes and appealing for apologies were the buzz while he was treading the narrow and dingy lanes of Meher Ali Lane in Beleghata on Sunday morning. That is Anadi Sahoo, CPI(M) candidate from Beleghata constituency in Kolkata, trying hard to defend the once-Left citadel.
Sahoo has replaced the CPI(M) heavyweight and five-time MLA from this constituency, Manebebdra Mukherjee, whose exposure and network is still crucial for CPI(M). Apparently the unity of past and present candidates was evident on Sunday morning, when Mukherjee was seen walking side-by-side with Sahoo, appealing for votes.
Sahoo started on Sunday morning from Canal South Road, with around 50 associates. He gave a personal touch to the campaign entering different houses and shaking hands with individuals and caressing the unkempt hair of the slum children of Meher Ali Lane.
"I will not let go of your hand and you too don't leave mine. For the sake of peace and to resist the skyrocketing inflation please vote for CPI(M)," said Sahoo while shaking hands with lungi-clad Anwar Ali, with days of unshaved beard. While many greeted him with smiling faces and nods of assurance, there were moments too when Sahoo faced confrontation.
"Before the vote, everybody makes tall promises. But later they just forget all about it. For so many years we are demanding for additional water tap here, which was never fulfilled. What is the guarantee that after elections you too will not vanish," said Saleha Bibi.
Instead of entering into an argument with Bibi, white kurta-pyjama-clad Sahoo confessed mistakes on part of his party. "We have made mistakes for which you have punished us in 2009 and 2010 elections. But your elected representatives in these two elections have also never bothered to come to you. So give me a chance to stand and work for you again. We made mistakes but will not repeat them," Sahoo said.
"Good that you realised your mistakes," Bibi replied.
"I am concentrating more on intensive door-to- door campaign than big rallies and road shows. I am highlighting mainly two points: the reign of terror unleashed by the Trinamool-Maoist combine and anti-people policies of the Centre, which Trinamool Congress is supporting," Sahoo told Hindustan Times.
That is exactly where, maroon and designer kurta-clad, Manab Mukherjee intervened. "Let's go. There are many more houses to go," he told Sahoo. For the next hour, Mukherjee walked side-by-side with Sahoo introducing him to voters and appealing to vote for him. "Sahoo is the CPI(M) candidate this time and do not forget to vote on the ‘star, hammer and sickle' symbol this time. We are depending on you," Mukherjee was seen repeating the statement again and again.
Asked about poll potentials, Mukherjee said he is confident that his party will win from Beleghata this time as well. "The majority population at Beleghata are poor people, who had traditionally with the Left. Of course, we did not do well in 2009 and 2010 elections. But this time, we are getting positive responses," he told HT.
However, Sahoo's companion Tarak Sarkar was not that confidant. "Our position is good in this part of Beleghata. But the scene is different in other parts of the constituency," he said.