The centuries-old town of Hooghly in West Bengal is reeling under the summer heat, but that has not deterred sitting MP Dr Ratna De Nag of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and BJP’s debutant candidate Chandan Mitra from campaigning.
The other two candidates, Pritam Ghosh of the Congress and Pradip Saha of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), are also out on the streets doing their best.
In the four-cornered contest, Mitra, Ghosh and Saha’s presence is hardly felt in the rural areas. While the BJP and Congress do not have any organisational base, the CPM is unable to win back people who are yet to forget the Singur episode.
At Arambag and Goghat, once CPM strongholds, Left leaders complain of TMC workers preventing them from campaigning, while the party office at Arambag is closed since 2009 with hundreds of cadres staying away fearing retribution.
Hooghly, however, is the home turf of the urbane and sophisticated doctor from Trinamool, who is fighting to retain the seat. Her father Gopal Das Nag once held the seat for Congress till it was lost to the Left for many years.
De Nag took it back in a surprise victory in 2009 after she defeated CPM strongman and an MP of many years, Rupchand Pal, after the Left was trumped following the poor handling of the Singur crisis by the Left Front government, which subsequently led to it being routed out of power in Bengal.
With the constituency including Singur, all eyes have been on it since 2006, when the CPM-led Bengal government forcibly acquired land for the Tata Motors factory.
Singur eventually led to the rise of Mamata Banerjee, while the Tatas bid adieu to Bengal for the more welcome shores of Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. Modi is scheduled to address a rally at Uttarpara in the district on April 27 to campaign for Mitra and he is expected to talk widely on Singur and how Mamata failed to bring an industry to the chosen site, which is now lying idle.
The TMC has till date failed to return the promised 400 acres to farmers who were unwilling to part with their land in 2006 after the matter got embroiled in legal issues. Not only is the factory site lying in ruins, local farmers are unable to till their land and many are surviving out of sheer will.
Singur’s present situation, however, is not likely to be an issue in the forthcoming election when the district goes to polls on April 30.