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Foreign minister scores at home as well

Jangipur proposed, Pranab Mukherjee delivered. From checking erosion and building a college to getting the district a passport office, the Congress MP has done it all. Arindam Sarkar reports.

india Updated: May 07, 2009 00:31 IST
Arindam Sarkar
Arindam Sarkar
Hindustan Times

Jangipur proposed, Pranab Mukherjee delivered. From checking erosion and building a college to getting the district a passport office, the Congress MP has done it all.

One of the most backward constituencies in the country, Jangipur in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district is plagued by several problems: low literacy rate, poverty, unemployment and high infant mortality rate. Sandwiched between the Ganga and the Padma, the area also is a victim of erosion.

It is said that till 1977, Abdus Sattar and ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury had worked for the poor in Jangipur. But that stopped after the Congress lost the seat to the Left in 1977.

Jangipur’s destiny changed when Behrampore MP Adhir Chowdhury got Mukherjee , 74, to contest the seat in 2004. Mukherjee defeated CPI(M)’s Abul Hasnat Khan by 37,782 votes. And since then, there’s been looking back.

In 2004, after Mukherjee won, Jangipur had one urgent request — protection against erosion.

Mukherjee got Rs 100 crore from the Centre to check Ganga erosion and also introduced the erosion-controlling project in the common minimum programme of the UPA government.

“If I get elected for the second term, work will begin on the banks of Padma,” he tells them this time.

Farmers and bidi workers form a bulk of the electorate here, and rolling bidi is a major cottage industry in this part of Murshidabad. Sources said nearly seven lakh people are part of it.

Tuberculosis is common among bidi workers. So, to ensure their proper treatment, Mukherjee equipped the Tarapur Hospital and added 50 beds to its existing strength of 50. To reduce the workers’ daily hassle of travelling to Barrackpore to settle provident fund accounts, he brought the office to Omorpur in Jangipur.

The people here agree that a lot has been done in the last five years. “We used to envy Behrampore for having an MP like Adhir Chowdhury. But we are lucky that he gifted Pranab Mukherjee to us. Jangipur will never let him down,” said Jahanara Begum of Kabilpur in Sagardighi.

Under Mukherjee’s initiative, education has also received a boost. Jangipur now has a college at Sagardighi, IGNOU has opened its centre, Aligarh Muslim University is opening a branch here and a new BEd college is on the cards.

“People have appreciated his initiative to set up a passport office in the district. Muslims are in majority here and when they go on Haj, they won’t have to go to Kolkata to get their passports,” said Mohammad Akruzzaman of Raghunathganj. The constituency has 60 per cent Muslim population.

The CPI(M) has its back to the wall, knowing well that having done nothing in Jangipur for the last 32 years, slogans of development will not fetch votes. So they are taking the only route they can: Pitting a local, Mriganko Bhattacharya, against Mukherjee.

Mriganko is Jangipur municipality chairman, and the party says, he will stay here, but Mukherjee is a Delhi man. But this campaign is also not working.

Had it not been for Mukherjee, perhaps, Jangipur would have been lost in the political and physical map of India. And Jangipur knows it.

So when Mukherjee proposes, Jangipur may deliver him the victory he’s hoping for.

First Published: May 07, 2009 00:28 IST