Bankura: CPI(M)`s Basudeb Acharia, who is eyeing a straight 10th term from this tribal-dominated seat, is possibly facing his toughest fight from yesteryears` actress Moon Moon Sen, class eight pass astrologer Binoy Chowdhury and medico Subhas Kumar Sarkar, among others.
Bankura, famous for its red soil that goes into making terracotta artifacts, is a stronghold of CPI(M) with 72-year- old Acharia having held the fort for over last 34 years after he won this Lok Sabha seat way back in 1980.
Veteran Acharia is pitted against 60-year-old Sen, who is making her debut in the election arena on a Trinamool ticket, Congress` Nilmadhab Gupta, Chowdhury from BSP and BJP`s Sarkar, a practising gynaecologist.
Interestingly, four candidates representing `Jharkhand` interests are also in the fray.
According to reports, Maoists are said to be regrouping in the tribal Jangalmahal area of Bankura ahead of polling on May 7 to disrupt the elections. That, however, hasn`t deterred candidates from going the extra mile in this searing heat where the temperature hovers around 42 degrees during day.
Public meetings, rallies and door-to-door campaigns are in full swing to woo the 15 lakh-strong electorate here.
The political topography of Bankura, which lies between the Chota Nagpur Plateau on the west and the Ganges Delta on east, has changed since 2009 Lok Sabha elections when the Left was ahead in six of the seven Assembly segments. Acharia had won by a margin of over 1 lakh votes in this Lok Sabha seat in 2009.
In the 2011 Assembly polls, Trinamool won four of the seven segments within this Lok Sabha constituency. The Mamata Banerjee-led party, which toppled the 34-year-old Left rule in the state in 2011, also won 41 of 46 seats in the Zilla Parishad during panchayat polls last year.
Moon Moon Sen, daughter of screen legend Suchitra Sen, has attacked Acharia`s claims of development and is banking on the ruling TMC government`s works to sail through.
Sen, whose husband Bharat Dev Varma belongs to a Scheduled Tribe, says: "There is no evidence of Basudeb Acharia having done any work in his constituency. There has been no development in terms of roads or drinking water supply, which is a major issue here.
"I went to Basudeb babu`s village, it is one of the poorest and most neglected villages in Bankura," she says, adding that one has "to see it to believe it".
Acharia, on the other hand, is sure of tackling the film artiste, dubbed by some as his main opponent here.
"Ours is not a fight against any person, we are fighting against Trinamool Congress. So whether it is a film artiste or anyone else, I am not affected by that," says the veteran parliamentarians.