BJP candidate in Bengal also a first-time voter

Mrinal Kanti Debnath, the BJP candidate from Barasat Lok Sabha seat. Special arrangement

The BJP candidate from Barasat Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal’s North 24 Paraganas district is not only a greenhorn when it comes to electoral politics but also a debutante in terms of casting his vote. At 69, Mrinal Kanti Debnath will vote for the first time in the Lok Sabha elections. 

Although his political rivals have sneered at this, Debnath is least bothered. “When I tried to vote for the first time, CPM stopped me from casting my vote. This time I will cast my vote for the first time and vote for myself,” Debnath told DH.

He also said that he has the "deepest respect" for Parliamentary democracy and his grievance is only against those who "made a mockery of democracy."

"I am hopeful that this time people will be able to vote freely," said Debnath.  

A doctor by profession, Debnath's life has been a roller-coaster ride. Born in Khulna in erstwhile East Pakistan, he came to Habra in West Bengal’s North 24 Paraganas district in 1964 at the age of 13. Debnath used to clean buses to earn a living. 

With the help of one of his school teachers, he cleared his school examinations and then went on to study medicine in Kolkata. A resolute Debnath also got a medical degree from a foreign institution. 

He spent 17 years in the West Indies as a medical practitioner and has also practised in the US for five years. 

“I returned to India about a decade back. My two sons are settled in the US,” said Debnath. He is a voter from the Rajarhat area of North 24 Parganas district. 

However, Debnath’s rival candidates find it a rather odd that someone who has never before voted in his life is going to take part in the world’s largest electoral exercise. “Someone who has never voted in his life does not fit in as a candidate in the Lok Sabha elections,” said TMC candidate Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar. 

It remains to be seen whether the unique tag of a 'first-time voter' has any effect on Debnath’s electoral fortune.

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