Dasmunsi's Wife, Brother in Fight for Supremacy in Raiganj

Pradipta Tapadar/Raiganj (WB)
Dasmunsi's Wife, Brother in Fight for Supremacy in Raiganj

An unfulfilled dream of former Union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, bedridden for the past six years, of setting up an AIIMS-like hospital here continues to dominate the election contest here between his wife and his brother in this constituency that has been a Congress stronghold since 1999.

Apart from being a three-cornered fight among Congress, Trinamool and CPI(M), nearly 14 lakh voters in this Lok Sabha seat tomorrow will be hard-pressed to choose between Deepa Dasmunsi (Congress) and brother-in-law Pabitra Ranjan Dasmunsi (Trinamool).

Sitting MP and Priya's wife Deepa, who is Union Minister of State for Urban Development, is also facing Left Front leader and CPI(M) candidate Mohammed Salim. BJP has fielded yesteryear's actor Nimu Bhowmick.

Deepa, a bete noire of Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee, and one of the vocal critics of Congress-Trinamool alliance in Bengal, time and again has lashed out against the state government on the issue of land for setting up of an AIIMS-like hospital here.

"She (Mamata) doesn't want AIIMS to come up in Raiganj that is why she is not acquiring land even if the farmers are willing to give it. It is cheap vindictive politics," Deepa has alleged.

On the other hand, Mamata is said to be against forcibly acquiring land from farmers for the over Rs 800-crore project that the Centre had okayed for the facility five years ago.

While in 2009 Lok Sabha polls Deepa rode the sympathy wave for her ailing husband and reaped the benefits of being the Congress-TMC alliance candidate as she won with over one lakh vote margin, political equations have undergone a sea change in the past five years.

Political observers say that with the anti-Left votes set to split this time as both Congress and Trinamool have fielded their own candidates, CPI(M)'s Salim will be the gainer.

The Raiganj constituency, situated in North Dinajpur district, has nearly 48 per cent Muslim population. It has been stronghold of Congress since Independence, except in mid 90s when Left's Subrata Mukherjee snatched it away.

The district, especially the constituency, since 1998 has been nurtured by Priya Ranjan, known to be an apt organiser and master strategist, into a stronghold of Congress. This paid rich dividends as he romped to victory from the Lok Sabha segment in 1999 and 2004.

But after he became bedridden due to illness, his wife Deepa, then an MLA Goalpokhar, took over the mantle.

Although the legacy of 'Priya-da' and his dream of setting up of an AIIMS, seem to be the main poll plank for Deepa and Pabitra, Salim is banking on 'underdevelopment and unfulfilled promises' in the constituency.

Trinamool, seen as the biggest threat to Congress in West Bengal, has been trying to make a dent in Raiganj for past few years.

Trinamool first delivered a jolt to Deepa when it managed to woo away Independent MLA and her close aide Hamidur Rehman, who won in 2011 by fighting against the official nominee of Congress-Trinamool alliance.

Sensing the legacy of Priya Ranjan in the district, the Trinamool brought in Pabitra into its fold in order to counter Deepa. Various posters across the districts have been asking the voters to vote for "Favorite younger brother of Priya dada".

BJP's Nimu Bhowmick, considered an underdog, feels that people in Raignaj this will vote in favour of BJP.

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