Raiganj – It’s a family face off

Politics for all the vacuous speeches of netas is often a very cynical game of cold calculations. You don’t necessarily have to be a fan of “House of Cards” (Obama watches it though!!) to appreciate the manipulative nature of politics. A cursory view at the candidate names of Raiganj LokSabha constituency is a pointer to that direction.

The competitors
In Raiganj, this time the battle is truly personal. Minister of State for Urban development in UPA2 government, Deepa Dasmunsi will be squaring off against TMC candidate Satya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who happens to be her brother in law. This bitter bhabi-devar face off is the stuff Ekta Kapoor serials dream of. In fray also is state committee member of CPIM and one of the most prominent TV faces of the party, Mohammed Salim. BJP’s candidate is actor Nimu Bhowmik, though he is regarded as a relative lightweight. This seat has been won both by Congress and Left in different occasions since Independence. But from 1999, Dasmunsi’s have ruled the roosts here. First, former Union Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi won two successive elections. Deepa won the seat last time.

Fight for Priya’s legacy
Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s goodwill in Raigunj, is the biggest calling card of his wife Deepa. Like Adhir Chowdhury in Murshidabad, Priya managed to create an island of dominance in North Dinajpur district. Unlike some leaders who forget their voters after getting all warmed up in Lutyens Delhi, Priya tried to facilitate development work in his area. The voters also rewarded him handsomely. After Priya slipped into coma post a fatal cardiac attack, Deepa stepped into his shoes.
Six years down the line, Priya is still in coma with very little signs of improving. His wife Deepa is fighting the toughest battle of her brief political career. In 2009, Congress and TMC were in alliance. Also the sympathy regarding Priya’s health was palpable among the voters. This time she is all alone literally. In the campaign, she is trying as much as possible to avoid attacking her brother in law.

Subtext of family fight
Many believe Mamata pulled the coup of convincing Priya’s brother to contest not to win, but to put a spanner in sitting MP’s chances. Mamata and Deepa’s relation was lukewarm to start with but have gone rapidly downhill. Deepa’s effort to build up the Congress organisation in South Bengal (TMC’s stronghold) even when the two parties were in alliance started the acrimony. Now it has reached crescendo with conflict regarding setting up AIIMS in Raigunj. Deepa alleges that Mamata is backstabbing the entire project. Didi says that land is not available there and no acquisition can be done forcefully violating pre-decided policy. The entire matter reached such an impasse that Deepa started a fast to protest against Mamata government’s “injustice”. Finally PM had to step in.
Trinamool is not much of a force in North Dinajpur. But its increased vote share ensured Congress lose control of the district to Left in the recent Panchayat elections.
Salim in pole position
Md. Salim a suave politician from the Left is tipped by many to become Chief Minister in future. As of now he is concentrating on winning this election after losing from North Kolkata constituency in 2009. Dasmunsi family is involved in “friendly fight”. Nimu Bhowmik of BJP is contesting aided by Modi wave. BJP’s increasing vote share would only help Salim’s cause. Yet, the wily politician is extremely cautious campaigning door to door leaving nothing to chance.
There are many slip between cup and lips. Salim does not want to get into that slippery slope. As for Deepa Dasmunsi only a latent stream of support can see her through. Even her sister is campaigning for TMC. Chances of possible end to another Congress dynasty seem very real.

Related Information:

Raiganj Election Result

Murshidabad Election Result
West Bengal Election Results
Lok Sabha Elections 2014 Results