Mamata has the edgeMay 9th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: Key constituencies
Indrani Dutta, Kolkatta
But the Trinamool Congress chief is pitted against an experienced CPI(M) candidate who seems confident and unperturbed
Kolkata Dakshin will be one of the most keenly-watched constituencies in this Lok Sabha election. It is here that Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee takes on Rabin Deb of the CPI(M) in a contest that also features 11 other candidates.
Delimitation has significantly changed the map of this constituency since the 2004 parliamentary polls. Bound by Jadavpur in the south and the posh Chowringhee on the north, delimitation has sliced off a portion of Dhakuria and Tollygunj along with most of suburban Sonarpur from the constituency.
Part of these were Trinamool areas and part CPI(M)’s. New areas such as Behala East and West have been added. A part of the Garden Reach and the Kolkata Port area with a predominance of Muslims has also come in. This is the mostly densely-populated constituency in West Bengal.
Although this seat has almost become home to the Trinamool leader, the CPI(M)’s Mr. Deb who took her on in 2004, is credited with having brought down her margin to 50.93 per cent of the votes against 58.26 per cent polled in 1999.
Mr. Deb is an old war-horse and a former chief party whip in the Assembly. Of the new areas in this constituency, the CPI(M) had won Behala East, defeating the Trinamool by a sizeable margin in the 2006 Assembly elections. Behala West, represented by Trinamool strongman Partha Chatterjee has now become an anchor of support for Mamata Banerjee. The Kolkata Port area has traditionally been with the Congress and is causing worry to the CPI(M) in view of the Trinamool-Congress alliance.
The voters here are a diverse lot, including some of the wealthiest in the city and poorest. Ms. Banerjee has been stressing the need for a change from the CPI(M) rule in the State and has called for a policy of industrialisation while protecting agriculture. Nandigram and Singur have been persistent refrains in her campaign. While campaigning in Muslim areas, she has promised to improve the lot of the minorities if voted to power.
Mr. Deb has stuck to the party line, raising issues of foreign policy, the economy and opposition to reforms in pension and insurance. But he has also turned to localised issues like the water crisis and roads, asking people what their sitting MP had done in 18 years in Parliament.
For a man who many feel has only an ‘outside’ chance of causing an upset, Mr. Deb exhibits an unperturbed cool. As for Ms. Bannerjee, she has promised the CPI(M) a fight it will not easily forget.