Cong starburst over Red Bengal | india | Hindustan Times
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Cong starburst over Red Bengal

The Congress is rolling out its own version of a beauty pageant. After lining up former Miss India Nafisa Ali to contest against Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, the party is trying to get Moushumi Chatterjee to take on Trinamool?s Ajit Panja in Kolkata N-E, and Moon Moon Sen to contest either from Tripura or Cooch Behar in North Bengal.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2004 18:52 IST

The Congress is rolling out its own version of a beauty pageant. After lining up former Miss India Nafisa Ali to contest against Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, the party is trying to get Moushumi Chatterjee to take on Trinamool’s Ajit Panja in Kolkata N-E, and Moon Moon Sen to contest either from Tripura or Cooch Behar in North Bengal.

Chatterjee, however, is not letting on much until an official announcement is made. And Sen is still undecided. But Ali, who grew up in the city, is spoiling for a fight. “I believe that by tying up with the BJP, Mamata is swimming against the tide. I will ride the tide and make a fight of it,” she says. She plans to begin campaigning after her nomination is announced.

Ali says she’s no stranger to Bengal’s terrain. “I am very much a Bengali. My DNA analysis will prove that. My father is a Muslim who lives here, my mother is a Christian and my husband is a Sikh. I am truly a secular person. It is unfortunate that Mamata brought in communal elements to Bengal.”

But Mamata isn’t perturbed — she has consistently raised the margin of her victories. “I would request all those who think they have put up strong candidates against me to keep a watch on the number of votes I poll,” she says.

She also dismisses suggestions that Ali and the CPI(M) candidate, Rabin Deb, will pin her down to her constituency. “I’ve always devoted the least number of days to my constituency. It won’t be different this time.”

Moon Moon, meanwhile, is completely overwhelmed by the Congress’s overtures. Her connection with the Tripura royal family could help her both there and in Cooch Behar, but she isn’t about to take the plunge in a hurry. “It would be a tall order for me to pack my bags and leave for a constituency,” she says.