CPM state secretary to face tough fight

CPM state secretary to face tough fight

CPM state secretary to face tough fight

 Paschimanchal, literally the western region, consists of several crucial districts that are likely to yield Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress a clincher this polling season. 

But the man who stands between Mamata and the desired winning curve is CPM state secretary, Surjyakanta Mishra. Contesting from Narayangarh in West Midnapore, Mishra could bring to a halt the juggernaut that Mamata has set rolling with a campaign blitzkrieg. Unlike those parts of the district that come under tribal majority Jungle Mahal, Mishra’s home seat will probably reinstate him, going by people on the streets. What could work in Mishra’s favour is the pride most of his voters are taking in the belief that the five-time MLA will go on to become chief minister, if the Left-Congress combine snatches victory.

Going by cold statistics, things are hardly easy for Mishra. Even though he managed to retain his seat in 2011 in the face of a Trinamool clean sweep, in successive polls since then that the Left has failed to leave any mark. In the 2013 Panchayat elections, Trinamool wiped out CPM from the region, a feat the ruling party repeated during the 2014 general elections. Keeping in mind the numbers and making the necessary calculations, Mamata has decided to wrest the seat from the Left.

Mishra, however, will not be an easy man to beat at one of the largest Assembly seats in Bengal even though he has hardly found time to campaign in his constituency. “Democracy will prevail and people will resist all forces trying to stop them from casting their votes. If the polls are free and fair, things will change in Bengal,” Mishra said in one of the few public rallies he addressed at Narayangarh.

 His campaign agents state that even though Mishra has not been able to spend much time in the area, owing to his organisational responsibilities, voters will understand.

Narayangarh, with around 2.4 lakh voters, sent Mishra back to the state Assembly with a margin of slightly over 7,800 in 2011. What followed was a “reign of terror and rigging” Trinamool unleashed in the subsequent elections in 2013 and 2014, claim local CPM leaders. In 2013, Trinamool won 15 of the 16 Gram Panchayats, captured the Panchayat Samity and Zilla Parishad and in 2014, CPM lost the Assembly segment under Midnapore Lok Sabha seat by around 24,000 votes.

 Initial reports suggested that Mishra was not keen on contesting this time due to his responsibilities as the state secretary, also may be because of the electoral situation. His agents and campaign managers, however, believe Mishra will be smiling all the way to victory. He is the first CPM state secretary to be contesting elections since party patriarch Jyoti Basu. Basu contested the polls in 1952 when he held the same office of an undivided Communist party. CPM’s convention has always been to keep the top office-bearer away from poll posters, and confined behind closed doors to make strategies on all the moves. CPM zonal committee secretary Madan Bose admitted that Mishra did not want to be fielded.

“He agreed to contest only because the request came from the polit bureau. His only condition was to contest from Narayangarh and nowhere else,” Bose said. Bose, who said that Mishra’s campaign machinery is being run by the zonal committee, claimed that the situation in Narayangarh started undergoing a change since mid-2015. People started complaining about the “misrule of Trinamool leaders” in every level of the Panchayat, he said. “After almost four years, people started joining our meetings and rallies. Even though Mishra will spend only five days to campaign in the area, a huge crowd will wait for him.

Trinamool is already worried over our coalition with Congress. They have realised that people are tired of them and want this rule of anarchy to end,” Bose said. The prevalent belief among most voters is that “daktaar-babu (Mr Doctor)”, as Mishra is known locally due to his formal medical training, will have a cure for the ruling party’s wrongs. 

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