Raigunge: Split vote could help the Left

Watching the hoardings of former union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi towering over the streets of Raigunge, the district town of North Dinajpur, it is possible to mistake the Congress veteran to be the overwhelming favourite in the Lok Sabha elections.

But in reality, Munshi, the information and broadcasting minister in Manmohan Singh cabinet till 2008, has been in a coma, having crippled by a severe stroke.

In the electoral fray, however, are his wife and sitting Congress MP Deepa Dasmunshi and her brother-in-law Satya Ranjan of the Trinamool Congress. Both are determined to make the most of their family connection with Munshi, a popular leader in the town, resulting in the sea of hoardings, posters and banners bearing the image of the ailing Congress veteran.

Satya Ranjan, who joined the Trinamool a few months before Lok Sabha elections were announced, is a surprise choice for the seat given his decade-long allegiance to the Congress and his brother’s service to the grand old party.

But the fact of his ticket to contest as Trinamool candidate here has made him the ace up Mamata Banerjee’s sleeves against the local MP and the most vocal of her critics.

The battle for Raigunge could be primarily a family affair, but if Mamata’s gamble pays off, the non-Left and non-BJP vote would be split down the middle, chipping away the support base that propped up Priya Ranjan and subsequently Deepa. This should be bad news for the sitting MP.

BJP candidate, veteran character actor Nimu Bhowmik, is a new entrant to electoral politics and is not expected to draw the kind of support his party is hoping he would.

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