Mamata's star candidates could upset Left in Medinipur and Ghatal

Mamata's star candidates could upset Left in Medinipur and Ghatal

Mamata's star candidates could upset Left in Medinipur and Ghatal

Purba (East) and Paschim (West) Medinipur has been awash with glamour in recent weeks.

The sitting MPs from the two constituencies of the districts, Medinipur and Ghatal, may be from the Left, but they face a hard challenge from the ruling Trinamool Congress which has fielded yesteryear Bengali film actor Sandhya Roy and the modern heartthrob Dev respectively from there.

The two districts have been Left bastions for several years. CPI’s Prabodh Panda is the sitting MP of Medinipur, while Ghatal has been represented by veteran CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta, who has recently announced his retirement from active politics.

Many believe Dasgupta could not have chosen a better moment to exit the political theatre, as defeat in the hands of a novice like Dev could have been more humiliating for the veteran. Dev is contesting the polls in his real name Dipak Adhikari.

Panda, on the other hand, is headed for a certain defeat as Mamata’s decision to field her star candidates has won grudging admiration even from the Left camp as it is certain to end the red domination here.

The CPI candidate’s loss in Medinipur could be viewed particularly as tragic as the seat was represented by legendary parliamentarian and Marxist ideologue Indrajit Gupta for seven terms between 1980 and 1999.

Left leaders admit that it is getting increasingly harder to counter the glamour quotient the two film actors have brought to the constituencies.

Dev may be the heartthrob whose every film is welcomed with hysteria by Bengali film fans, but even those who do not necessarily smitten by his star image are fascinated by his boy-next-door charm.

“It’s not every day that a star of Dev’s stature comes knocking on your door. He smiles, sometimes even comes in for a few minutes to interact and have a glass of water, to take a break from the extreme heat. The number of converts to his cause is increasing every day,” said a senior CPM leader at Medinipur town.

Roy, by contrast, strikes a chord with Medinipur voters by her grace and charm.

The biggest hit of Roy’s career was Baba Taraknath, a devotional drama released in the 1980s about one of lord Shiva’s avatars represented by a massive temple complex at Tarakeshwar in Birbhum. This has helped her find a place in the hearts of audience in suburban and rural Bengalis, who would be part of her vote bank this election.

Sandhya has become a tourist attraction with her rented second floor flat in Rabindranagar in heart of Medinapur town being watched by a group of people at all times of the day hoping to catch a glimpse of the actor.

Local Left leaders have been campaigning hard saying that actors cannot do what seasoned politicians can, but their cry gets desperate as the star status of their opponents seems to be tilting the election in their favour.

“Not all of them might vote for the stars but right now it has become difficult for us to determine what percentage of voters will vote for us. Their star value has definitely turned everything topsy-turvy,” the CPM leader concedes, with begrudging admiration for Mamata Banerjee’s strategy.

While the crowd around Sandhya is subdued, Dev is greeted with frenzied cheers from fans and on-lookers. His first rally at Medinipur town’s Aurobindo stadium, where he  shared dais with Mamata and Sandhya, set the tone for the rest of his campaign.

His call to the youth to join politics has the rally has seen many youngsters joining his campaign.

Born in Keshpur in West  Medinipur, Dev speaks often fondly of his time at Keshpur, which is part of the Ghatal constituency, making Trinamool leaders feel almost certain that he may be on his way to the 16th Lok Sabha.