I am depending on father's and Mamata's vote bank, says Pranab's son

I am depending on father's and Mamata's vote bank, says Pranab's son

Abhijit is a candidate from the Nalhati assembly constituency in West Bengal's Birbhum district where polling will be held Saturday.

"My father being the union finance minister is a very popular name in Indian politics. I have to depend on his vote bank to win this election. Similarly, I need to depend on Mamata Banerjee's vote bank. She is very popular and the winds of change blowing across the state are largely due to her," 51-year-old Abhijit Mukherjee told IANS in an interview.

Admitting that Mamata Banerjee has a strong anti-establishment and anti-Left vote bank, Mukherjee Jr said his father's legacy has helped him a lot. "His dedication and urge to carry out development for people's benefit have inspired me."

"I am telling people about his success story in my election campaign and they are showing faith in me," he said, adding he wants to establish his own identity and carry forward his father's legacy.

When asked whether it was an advantage or hindrance to contest an election as the son of Pranab Mukherjee, Abhijit shot back: "Don't ask me such questions. You all ask me the same question over and over again.

"I have worked as general manager in an organisation like Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). I am a mechanical engineer who has passed out of the reputed Jadavpur University."

"Now, I am a Congress candidate for the Nalhati seat and the voters of this area know me personally. And after all of this, I am the son of Pranab Mukherjee." On why he chose to contest from Nalhati when his ancestral house in Meeriti village is located in adjacent Labpur constituency, he said: "I have chosen the constituency myself. I am the son of this district. I also have houses in Kolkata and Delhi... then what is the reason for raising such a question?"

The mainly rural constituency, bordering Jharkhand, has an electorate of 176,536 out of which 92,351 are males and 84,185 are females. Demographically, 60 percent of the people are land owners and small marginal farmers, 20 percent are businessmen and service holders. The rest 20 percent are wage labourers and farm labourers.

The main problems in the area are related to infrastructure -- shabby roads and lack of large hospitals and good schools. Fifty percent of the electorate comprise Muslims. Abhijit, who plunged into politics by taking voluntary retirement from SAIL, has also given up his corporate looks. Clad in a kurta, party cap and stylish sunglasses, he has held several roadshows in his constituency.

According to  Mukherjee Jr, he has joined politics only to serve the people. "I have crossed 50 and, after a few more years, I would have been a retired person with nothing much to do. I decided to join politics only to serve the people."

Abhijit also admitted to having received some fruitful advice from his father before joining politics. "He suggested to me to be soft and polite while talking to people and act gently. He told me that politics is a game of uncertainty. But the main objective of joining politics is to get elected as a people's representative through the democratic process. And I should always follow the party's agenda," he said.

Ever since he filed his nomination April 14, Abhijit has been canvassing from dawn to dusk, followed by late night meetings with party workers. His sole campaign issue is underdevelopment of the area in 34 years of rule by the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

"Give me votes, I will initiate development in the area as my father has successfully implemented development projects in Murshidabad's Jangipur constituency." He will take on Forward Bloc nominee and sitting legislator Dipak Chatterjee from Nalhati, which has always voted for the Bloc's lion symbol since 1967. Nalhati will vote in the second phase of the April 18-May 10 assembly polls.