At the height of outrage for safety of women post Nirbhaya incident, Abhijit Mukherjee sparked off a row by calling the protestors “dented and painted”. He faced the nation literally questioned by “you know who”, trying to mumble a faint apology. His insipid responses convinced no body and did no good advertisement for the studio air conditioner as he sweated profusely. Ironically, that was the only 15 minutes of fame Abhijit has got so far in his brief political career. Else, he has been often dwarfed by the towering personality of his illustrious father, the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee.
Abhijit is currently facing an extremely tough fight at Jangipur, in Murshidabad district famous for being the land of Nawabs. Since shehzada’s (Rahul) stock is dipping to an all-time low, Abhijit is literally feeling the heat to get renominated in the constituency. He won the by-election in 2012 by a wafer-thin margin of only two thousand votes. By that time TMC and Congress alliance was no longer there. But still didi didn’t fielded any candidate from this seat probably as a goodwill gesture after the fiasco she created during election of the President. But this time around it is a classic four-corner race.
The incumbent MP has not done himself any favour by being largely seen as an aloof politician. Unlike his father, he is not a career politician and only joined midway. Pranab Mukherjee was never a mass leader more comfortable in power games at Lutyens Delhi than in real politics at grassroots. But at least he understood the psyche of the party workers whereas Abhijit comes across as too cold and insipid according to his detractors. In local parlance it can be said, “public khache na” (people are not being too enthusiastic). Incidentally Jangipur was the constituency from which Pranab first got elected to Lok Sabha after spending decades in Rajya Sabha. He got the ultimate gratification from common people. It is an achievement Manmohan Singh can’t ever boast off. Some poetic justice there probably for the man who many believe was appropriate for the job of PM.
The challenge Abhijit faces is quite daunting. Left has significant vote bank at their behest. Even in 2012, after Paribartan( change) in Bengal they got nearly 39% vote in the by-election which took place since Pranab Mukherjee resigned as M.P. TMC has fielded a very strong candidate in Haji Nurul Islam. He is currently M.P from Basirhat. Facing anti-incumbency and accusations of inciting tensions between communities Haji has been shifted to Jangipur. Here already he has been accused of distributing money to voters by opposition leaders. Trinamool does not have a huge presence in Murshidabad, unlike in other districts of Bengal. But Haji can become a potential game changer if not the final winner. As of now, Left definitely looks to have its nose ahead in this closely fought tussle.
The only silver lining or possible saving grace for Abhijit is the presence of State Congress Chief Adhir Chaudhury. Adhir, a congress strongman from this district itself was one of the rare leaders who held on to his ground even when Left was totally dominant. His relation with Mamatadi is extremely bitter. Pundits believe Murshidabad is the last bastion didi still haven’t captured in Bengal and she is more than keen to do it. It is to be seen how zealously Adhir guards his home turf in this election. There will rest the fate of Abhijeet Mukherjee. An intriguing tale within the larger story, Jangipur results will be closely watched come 16th of May.