She is the archetypal nyeka (coy) actress. In her diva like avatar she is Bengal’s answer to Rekha sans the hit films. Now standing for the first time in elections, she has thrown a stiff challenge to leader of CPIM parliamentary party in 15th Loksabha , Basudeb Acharya. In the Bankura Loksabha constituency the ruling party of the state TMC has pulled a coup by fielding Srimati Dev Barma better known as Moon Moon Sen.
Moon Moon Sen is daughter of recently deceased “Mahanayika” (Supreme heroine) Suchitra Sen, one of the most celebrated matinee idol of Bengal. Moon Moon is also mother to Raima and Riya Sen, who have already made their name in Bollywood. A student of English Literature, Sen got largely overshadowed by the halo her mother enjoyed. After a tepid film career, she chose a life indoors largely been seen as a fashionista, a party celeb. Thus, it shocked the most when Sen’s candidature was announced by Mamata Banerjee. Moon Moon is candid enough to accept that she almost knows nothing about electoral politics. Her knowledge about heavily tribal dominated Bankura is sketchy to say the least. But rather than being defensive about it, she is trying to use it to her advantage. Moon Moon is hoping to invoke freshness to the political discourse of the area to upset the applecart of 9 times M.P Basudeb Acharya.
Playing her cards right
Although new to this arena, Moon Moon Sen is certainly not acting as naïve. Rather she is adapting to politics like fish in water. In meetings after meetings, she recalls her mothers’ name to invoke nostalgia among the voters. She also recalls her jatra (rural theatres) days and how she is no stranger to this place. To connect with the locals, in extremely remote areas she is using a translator who is repeating her words in local dialect. Rather than boring political discourse, she tries to keep the conversations light hearted and flowing. According to reports, in one of the meetings she said to the crowd, Amae dekhe dustumi korte iche korche? (Are you feeling naughty after seeing me?!!!).
The simple folks of Bankura are absolutely lapping up this new found adulation they are receiving.
But she is well aware of ground realities. Bankura, part of Jangalmahal, is one of the most backward areas of Bengal. Sen with her glitzy life style is pretty much antithesis to everything the place stands for. Thus she is also using her tribal connection to the hilt, albeit cynically some suggests. Moon Moon Sen’s husband is a descendant of the royal family of Tripura. She uses that card to say that her “hubby” Bharat Deb Barma is also an ST and thus she understands the pain of the locals. This is also one of the rare constituencies where the party is right behind the celebrity candidate to enforce an upset win.
The veteran incumbent
Moon Moon Sen’s unconventional nature of campaign has redrawn battle lines in this largely rural constituency. Basudeb Acharya, an old school veteran politician believes that his work for the people will see him through. In 2009, he defeated TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee by over 1 lakh votes. He is unperturbed by the “moon struck” reaction of the commoners. Acharya insists that the victory margin will only increase though most find it hard to believe. The locals suggest that didi’s popularity and Moon Moon Sen’s charisma may well lead to an indrapaton (fall of a titan). Basudeb Acharya retorts by saying he never gets to know any of his opponents well, as they flee after losing the election.
Win or lose, it’s certain that brand ambassador of Calcutta Nasta, Moon Moon Sen has added flavour to the election in this non-descript corner of Bengal.