Old warhorse way ahead of greenhorn

PTI | ByTapan Das, Panskura
May 01, 2004 02:00 PM IST

A whirlwind tour of Panskura gives one the impression that odds are tilted heavily in favour of the CPI?s nominee, Gurudas Dasgupta.

Even though thousands of farmers slog all round the year to grow myriad varieties of flowers here, life for them remains as colourless and listless as ever.

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Known as “flower capital” of India, Panskura in West Midnapore is caught up in a whirling vortex of politics recently. The people, who experienced mindless blood-letting in the recent past, are distinctly reticent, if not totally unconcerned. However, an overwhelming majority of 10.28 lakh voters of this rural constituency will cast their votes on May 10.

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A whirlwind tour of the constituency gives one the impression that odds are tilted heavily in favour of the CPI’s nominee, Gurudas Dasgupta. A veteran of many a battle, Dasgupta, who is a familiar face here, lost to Trinamool Congress’ Bikram Sarkar in the 2000 by-election, held after the death of the party’s seven-time MP, Gita Mukherjee. A former bureaucrat, Sarkar won hands down with a margin of 44,065. But with Sarkar contesting from Howrah this time, Dasgupta is pitted against Trinamool’s Hema Choubay, a political greenhorn.

Handpicked by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, Choubey’s campaign got a serious jolt since Banerjee hasn’t yet turned up in the constituency. She is banking largely on sympathy votes, as both her husband and brother-in-law were killed by hired goons recently. She has been trying hard to explain why she deserves all the blessings and support of her electorate as a debutant and is asking for votes for the NDA led by the “ablest Prime Minister”.

Dasgupta, on the other hand, took the opportunity to lash out at the NDA government’s ‘dismal failures’ on almost all fronts. Why is diesel price going up? Why are bus fares rising and airfares are falling? Why is kerosene becoming costlier and foreign liquor cheaper? Why do cars cost less and bicycles cost more? the Dasgupta men keep raising these questions. Also, Congress candidate Najimuddin Ahmed is in the fray just for the symbolic presence.

A favourable wind notwithstanding, the Front cannot breathe easy. For, Choubey is trying hard to channelise the discontent among a large number of deprived masses into votes for her. But whatever be the results, the Panskura voters would be little bothered if India is really shining. They will rather feel good if the heady fragrance of the flowers waft in the air for them to breathe.

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