Going gets tough for 'First Son' in Jangipur

Going gets tough for 'First Son' in Jangipur

 The hamlet of Jangipur, tucked away in a corner of the Murshidabad district in West Bengal, has produced a head of the state. With the responsibility of politically representing his father, President Pranab Mukherjee, it is now on the country’s “First Son” Abhijit to win back his seat.

Although the area boasts of no other achievement, all eyes are on the constituency because the “President’s son” is seeking re-election from here.

Abhijit is fighting to retain his seat, which he won in a by-poll after his father vacated it to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2012. While he has the backing of Adhir Chowdury, a man who wears many hats—including those of being Pranab's close aide, the Minister of State for Rail, state Congress chief and a strongman from the district—many believe Abhijit won the seat because Mamata Banerjee did not put up a Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate during the 2012 by-poll.

With the scene changing this time, things might not be that easy for Abhijit, and even a section of Congress leaders from the district admit it.

It was apparent from Abhijit facing public ire earlier in the week when he went to campaign at Sabirpur in Raghunathgunj of Jangipur. Angry villagers stopped a road show he was part of and raised the issue of poor supply of drinking water and the abysmal condition of roads. Matters came to such a head that Abhijit had to abandon the event. Since then, he has been exercising caution and reportedly gauging the area’s pulse before going to campaign anywhere in the district.

Local Congress leaders accuse the CPM of instigating villagers against Mukherjee so that he cannot campaign in the area. According to a leader who is part of Abhijit’s campaign entourage: “Mukherjee is not in the panchayat that he can get roads repaired roads and arrange for drinking water. The CPM is trying to sabotage our campaign, but they will be defeated,” he said.

Their public show of confidence, however, is not as strong in private: A section of local Congress leaders and workers agree that all might not be well.

Abhijit’s campaign might not be enough to pacify people who have largely been passed over in terms of development. “His campaign surrounds his father. They say he is the son of a glorious son of Bengal, but his father is not contesting the polls,” said Akhtarujjaman, a small-time bidi manufacturer in the outskirts of Jangipur. Others in the area concur.

Abhijit is said to have admitted in private that Jangipur is a tough seat, and numbers support his lack of confidence. While his father, who fought from the seat for the first time in 2004, breaching a traditional Left bastion since 1971, won by nearly 1.3 lakh votes in 2009, Abhijit managed to scrape by in 2012. 

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