Glamour takes on politics in Bankura battle

Glamour takes on politics in Bankura battle

The electoral battle in the Bankura parliamentary constituency in the district of the same name is truly a contest of mythical proportions—between a David and a Goliath. 

While sitting MP Bausdeb Acharia of the CPM is fighting to retain his seat for the ninth time, his closest rival is Moon Moon Sen of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), a former actress and a first-time candidate.

Many are of the opinion that it is actually Acharia pitted against TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, like many other seats across Bengal where the party has fielded political novices. Besides Acharia and Sen, who is fighting under her real name, Srimati Dev Barma, the race also includes Dr Subhas Sarkar of the BJP and Nilmadhab Gupta of the Congress, although they seem to have been left to the sidelines.

The buzz in the constituency is that despite being a veteran who has won the Lok Sabha seat since 1980, Acharia was not initially keen on contesting the polls this time. While his name featured in the second list released by the CPM, Sen’s glamour quotient was one of the factors that deterred him from contesting, along with the low popularity of the Left among the largely tribal populace of the constituency. 

Despite his years in public service, Acharia seemed worried that a novice like Sen, with her two starlet daughters adding further glamour to her campaign, could turn the tables on him.

While Acharia braved the heat to campaign, he felt it had been tough to draw people out of their homes due to the extreme weather in the district. Added to this are the negative image of his party and the glamorous draw of Sen's campaign. 

Acharia also cannot seem to find confidence in the fact that last time he received more than 47 per cent of the votes, and won by a margin of above 1 lakh, whereas the TMC was far behind him. 

Compared to Sen’s campaign, riding on hit songs from films by her mother Suchitra Sen, the most celebrated Bengali actress ever, and the added glamour quotient of her daughters, Acharia’s campaign is lower than low-key. The Left Front MP is talking of the TMC government's policies and how they are harming the poor, without much effect.

Acharia, who admitted before reporters that “the odds are heavily stacked against us”, claimed of a reversal in lots for the Left, but last year's Panchayat elections did not seem to point to any such likeliness. 

Going by the rousing welcome Sen and her entourage are receiving everywhere, Mamata Banerjee’s experiment of fielding glamorous screen divas and stars seems like a success.

 It is also no wonder that Banerjee has asked Riya and Raima Sen to campaign not just for their mother but also for other candidates across Bengal, along with another star TMC campaigner and Rajya Sabha member, Mithun Chakraborty.

According to sources, Banerjee and Sen struck a rapport recently when the latter's mother was admitted to hospital in Kolkata before she passed away. It was there that Banerjee proposed to field Sen, and the latter agreed because she has “faith” in her. 

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