By Probal Chakraverti Raigunj, North Dinajpur, Apr 11 UNI | 4 months ago

For over 1.3 million voters in Raigunj Lok Sabha constituency, the 2014 general election has thrust on them a tricky challenge to pick up a winning candidate from among 12 contestants for West Bengal's 2nd phase polling on April 24.

Political observers say of all the contestants, the fight will be restricted to only three--sitting MP Deepa Dasmunshi of Congress, her brother-in-law Pabitraranjan Dasmunshi alias Satyaranjan from ruling Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) veteran Md Salim.

Actor Nimu Bhowmik's entry for the first time as the BJP candidate is another interesting episode for many voters and a headache for many poll managers in the arithmatic of ballots.

Traditionally the constituency, comprising seven assembly segments of Islampur, Goalpokhar, Chakulia, Karandighi, Hemtabad (SC), Kaliaganj (SC) and Raiganj, has been a safe bastion for the Indian National Congress.

But with the emergence of the Communist movement in Bengal in the 60s and its firm grip in the early 80s, CPI(M) wrested the seat for eight times since 1980 before Congress stalwart Priyaranjan Dasmunshi regained it for the national party in 1999.

Before falling sick to a vegetative state, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi had won the seat in 2004 and then Deepa Dasmunshi stepped in in 2009.

But this time, it is far more difficult for any candidate than in 2009 Parliamentary polls or 2011 assembly elections, where Congress and Trinamool Congress together fought the Left.

An estimated 13,83,281 voters, of them 661666 females, will have difficulty in choosing a winning candidate in 1538 polling booths, spread over to seven Assembly segments.

The situation will be complicated for 274901 new voters, who will push button for the first time in the EVMs.

The issues are many, but the setting up of an AIIMS branch at Raiganj, a pet topic of Deepa Dasmunshi, is crucial.

The sitting MP will have to answer the people why the super specialty hospital failed to come up.

Her contention is that the ruling party in West Bengal was preventing sanctioning of a site, despite the previous Left Front government agtreeing to the Central proposal.

The Mamata Banerjee-led government wants the hospital to be built at Kalyani in Nadia district.

(Posted on 11-04-2014)