By Kushal Dasgupta Raiganj (West Bengal), Apr 10 UNI | 4 months ago

Perhaps for the first time since she entered electoral politics under the patronage of her illustrious husband, Union Minister Deepa Dasmunsi faces a tough battle within the clan.

In what came as a shrewd game plan of Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, the wife of former Congress heavyweight Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi is now made to defend her Raiganj seat in North Dinajpur district against her brother-in-law Satya Ranjan Dasmunsi.

As things stand, it is not really Satya Ranjan, but Mamata, who fights a proxy war with her most vocal critic and relentless baiter, Deepa Dasmunsi.

As an incapacitated Priya Ranjan remains in coma in a Delhi hospital for five long years--light years away from the bustling days of his political glory--Deepa has taken over the mantle by getting elected in 2009 from Raiganj, the constituency in North Bengal her husband represented since 1999.

In the last Lok Sabha polls, Deepa Dasmunsi defeated her nearest CPI(M) rival Bireswar Lahiri by more than one lakh votes. The margin was more than what her husband had recorded in 2004, the reason being the sympathy of the people of North Dinajpur for their 'Priyo Da'.

However, even before she got elected to the West Bengal Assembly from Goalpokhar, a segment of Raiganj PC in 2006, Deepa had been headlong into politics, aiding her husband in nurturing the constituency and maintaining contact with the local people, many of whom adoringly called her 'Boudi'(sister-in-law).

Since 1999 Deepa Dasmunsi has been using Priya Ranjan's photograph in every poll campaign using the shadow of her husband that still remains tall in Raiganj.

However, far away from political action and media glare, Priya Ranjan will perhaps be more visible in poll campaign this time with his brother following the same strategy. After being elected in 2009, Deepa, considered by the Congress as a woman with verve and voice to be able take on Mamata Banerjee, rose up the political ladder.

She started campaigning to build an AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj, which was planned by the Centre but scuttled by the state government.

The Mamata Banerjee-led government wanted the hospital to be built at Kalyani in Nadia district. Perhaps the feud that broke out between the two woman politician, led Ms.Banerjee to pick up Satya Ranjan by wooing through a close confidant and take the battle to the doorstep of Deepa. Satya Ranjan, who once used to act as an aide of Priya Ranjan, joined the Trinamool Congress only in November last year.

'I won't say anything on my Trinamool rival. I didn't say anything when he joined the Trinamool and would not say now. But I will win this time also,' Deepa Dasmunsi said over phone amid a hectic campaign. While Deepa Dasmunsi has been residing in Raiganj for years, Satya Ranjan is based in Kolkata. But the 65-year-old brother of Priya Ranjan says it will not affect his prospects. I have my ancestral home in Raiganj. 'The people know me well and they respect me. And I am not a newcomer in politics. I was an elected Pradesh Congress Committee member from 1972 to 1990,' he said. The Trinamool candidate said he was using his elder brother's photograph along with that of party chief Mamata Banerjee in every publicity material.

The move to replicate Deepa's strategy by using a Congress minister's photograph in Trinamool campaign, however, drew sharp criticism from the Congress. Satya Ranjan, however, said the political battle he was fighting with his 'boudi', would not affect their cordial relationship.

Apart from the fact that the constituency has been in the stranglehold of the Dasmunsis for the past 15 years, the Congress and the Left have always been the traditional rivals here.

In the 2011 Assembly elections, the Congress won in two of the seven Assembly segments under the Parliamentary constituency--Islampur, Goalpokhor, Chakulia, Karandighi, Hemtabad(sc), Kaliaganj (sc) and Raiganj. While the Left holds four Assembly seats, the Trinamool has only one. In the five-cornered contest, the CPI(M) has fielded its prominent leader Md. Selim, while stage actor Nimu Bhowmik fights the battle on a BJP ticket.

West Bengal will go to five phase Lok Sabha polls from April 17 to May 12.

(Posted on 10-04-2014)