Trinamool goes all out for Mamata's heir apparent (Election Special)
Widely perceived as Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's heir apparent, her nephew and the party's GenNext face, Abhishek Banerjee, is getting "princely" treatment from party workers and supporters as he fights his maiden electoral battle.
Contesting from Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district, he is pitted against 15 others, including Congress' Qamruzzaman Qamar, Abhijit Das of the Bharatiya Janata Party and CPI-M's Abul Hasnat.
But Abhishek Banerjee seems to have emerged as something of a VIP among all the Trinamool contestants across the state.
Party leaders, from the grass roots to the middle rung and the senior ones, are keeping a special watch on the constituency to ensure a comfortable victory margin for the 26-year-old MBA degree holder who runs a successful consultancy venture.
There is almost a frenzy surrounding his poll campaign with people - read Banerjee's admirers - across the constituency trying to ensure that the "chosen one" gets a "deserving victory".
"He is the chosen one, he is Didi's (Mamata Banerjee) very own. We will vote for him, he deserves to win," people, especially women, would say during his widely participated road shows and rallies.
From coining catchy slogans to brightening walls with witty graffiti, organising rallies and reaching out to the masses, the Trinamool workers have been walking the extra mile to make things easy for Abhishek Banerjee.
The party supremo too has canvassed extensively for her protege.
But Abhishek Banerjee is no political greenhorn. The decision to put him into the rough and tumble of an electoral contest followed years of careful political grooming, and after a stint as the founder president of the party's youth wing "Yuva".
However, Mamata Banerjee insists that more than a conscious political strategy, it is actually the fruition of a childhood dream.
"In 1990, when I was attacked by the CPI-M and had bandages over my head, Abhishek, who was a little child then, used to say 'I will join politics...when I grow up I will see why they had attacked my aunt'," she said while canvassing for her nephew.
The chief minister also claimed she could have fielded him from her own constituency - Kolkata South - but preferred Diamond Harbour as he should take the "hard route to success".
He may be reticent and media shy, but when it comes to addressing the people Abhishek Banerjee speaks like a seasoned politico.
"I believe if you do good work, the results will ultimately follow. Our fight is not against any political party, rather it's a fight to ensure that the common man's voice is heard," he says.
With Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool aspiring to play a significant role at the national level, he hopes to see his aunt at the helm of the country.
"It's not only me. People at large want her to lead the nation," he says.
But as the multi crore Saradha scam increasingly becomes a raw nerve for the Trinamool, especially with the Central Bureau of Investigation taking over the probe, it could turn out to be anything but an easy outing for the heir apparent.
A fairly large section of the over 1.5 million voters include the investors who were duped by the biggest financial scandal to rock Bengal.
At the other end, Trinamool holds all the seven assembly segments besides doing well in the 2013 panchayat polls in the parliamentary constituency which elected CPI-M nominees for 37 years till 2004.
In 2009, Trinamool's Somen Mitra defeated CPI-M's Samik Lahiri who had been winning the seat since 1996. Earlier this year, Mitra left the Trinamool and joined the Congress and is now contesting from Kolkata North.
With the Indian Union Muslim League and the Jamaat-e-Islami backed Welfare Party of India in the fray, and both the Congress and the CPM-M fielding Muslim candidates, Abhishek Banerjee has his task cut out to win over the minority voters who form nearly 30 percent of the electorate.
Diamond Harbour, with over seven lakh female voters, goes to the polls May 12 along with 16 other constituencies spread across eight districts in the last phase of the Lok Sabha polls in Bengal.
(Anurag Dey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 11-05-2014)