Often people complain that leaders can be only seen once in 5 years. They come to ask for votes and disappear hence after. Looks like in Bengal, there are leaders who crib about even campaigning for elections once in 5 years!! Reputed actress and TMC candidate Satabdi Roy reportedly didn’t bother to stop for pre-arranged campaign meets in different villages of her constituency Birbhum sighting poor attendance. In some she spoke tersely for barely couple of minutes. This brusque behaviour of former leading lady of Tollywood has left her party workers red-faced.
How events unfolded
On Wednesday, Satabdi Roy, was campaigning in rural Suri, the capital of Birbhum District. She was accompanied by local TMC M.L.A. In successive meetings, very scanty footfall apparently enraged the current M.P. In Languliya village, only 25 people were present to attend her meeting! According to reports, Satabdi stomped off after just talking for one minute. The next meeting was scheduled in nearby Kustor village. The locals albeit in small numbers were ready to welcome her with barandala (Traditional Bengali welcome ritual). The actress showing a diva like attitude refused to even step out of her car.
This hostile attitude didn’t go down well with the locals. They tore away posters and banners of TMC. Some vowed not to vote for Satabdi Roy. Even after this incident, the actress turned politician continued to be extremely terse and brief in her exchanges. Her staff went into argument with local M.L.A about inability to micro-manage these street meetings effectively. In most of her later meetings she barely spoke, though attendance in some of them was pretty decent.
Actress under pressure
It is said that Satabdi Roy is under extreme duress to hold on to her seat. In the last election, she defeated veteran CPIM leader Braja Mukherjee from this constituency by a margin of 61 thousand votes. In this election, she is in a sticky wicket. Congress and TMC are no longer in alliance. It is a 4 cornered fight. BJP has put up a very formidable candidate in Joy Banerjee. Originally a movie star, Joy is better known in rural Bengal for his lead roles in jatra (theatres in villages). Former colleague of Satabdi, Joy is virtually criss-crossing the entire constituency going to extremely remote villages also. Emboldened with Modi wave, Joy Bhattacharya hopes to get much more than the 40 thousand odd votes BJP candidate managed last time. These factors have made TMC workers and local leaders extremely wary. Thus they want Satabdi Roy to emulate Joy, causing further heartburn. In one of the rallies, she even admonished a local leader for mentioning Joy’s name in front of her. Apparently it sullied her reputation. This maverick attitude from Satabdi has flummoxed party workers in the grassroots. They are unsure of how it will impact them electorally.
The hidden subtext
Satabdi Roy’s relation with Birbhum’s TMC strong man Anubrato Mandal has been acrimonious over the last few years. Anubrata is best known for being openly hostile and uncharitable to opponents in his words if not necessarily in action. The two leaders have sparred repeatedly though Mamata Banerjee has ensured that situation doesn’t go out of control. There is a theory that Satabdi Roy is sceptical about some forces working against her which probably explains her hostile behaviour. The official word from her camp is that she was not informed of most of these roadside meetings. Hence she didn’t bother to stop for a very long time. Earlier she landed in controversy for asking voters to elect her, if they wanted to see a film star free of cost!!! Can didi’s charisma overcome these gaffes by Satabdi? We will get the answer on 16th May.