Tollywood star looks for blockbuster show on poll debut

A reigning Bengali film idol is counting on his stardom to make a mark on the political stage on his poll debut as a TMC candidate from this Left bastion where the decision by sitting MP and CPI veteran Gurudas Dasgupta to not defend his seat has added a twist to the plot.

PTI| Last Updated: May 08, 2014, 12:37 PM IST

Ghatal: A reigning Bengali film idol is counting on his stardom to make a mark on the political stage on his poll debut as a TMC candidate from this Left bastion where the decision by sitting MP and CPI veteran Gurudas Dasgupta to not defend his seat has added a twist to the plot.

Dev, whose real name is Deepak Adhikari, is facing, among others, CPI`s Santosh Rana and Congress` Manas Ranjan Bhunia in the battle for this seat which Dasgupta had won by a margin of 1.47 lakh votes in 2009.
But the twice Lok Sabha and three-time Rajya Sabha MP decided against contesting this time, saying, "I have been an MP for 25 years, for how many more terms should I be there?"

Dasgupta`s decision has thrown the field wide open for the rivals of the Left who feel they have a good chance of winning this seat in West Midnapore district.

Trinamool Congress, after sweeping the recent panchayat polls in West Bengal, would be looking to extend its streak in the Lok Sabha polls and party leaders are going all out to secure a good result.

TMC working president Pradyut Ghosh, who is supervising the party`s campaign here, said he was confident about the party coming out with flying colours in this contest.

"The figures in the last panchayat elections show we will win hands down... In our district, we are not fighting to win, but to increase our margin," said Ghosh.

But he was quick to point out that the party was not taking their opponents lightly.

"Despite being a superstar, the 32-year-old Dev is taking part in roadshows, public meetings and holding door-to-door visits," he said.

The roadshows and meetings by Dev have been drawing a good response and people, mainly the youth, are turning up in big numbers to get a glimpse of the star, claims Ghosh.

In the seven assembly segments of Ghatal Lok Sabha seat, TMC has four legislators while CPI(M) along with its ally DSP and Congress hold one seat each. There are about 13.5 lakh electors in the constituency, where polling is scheduled in the ninth and last phase of voting on May 12.

Santosh Rana, the CPI candidate, claims he is going to give a tough fight to TMC.

"I am contesting to win... If there is proper voting, then I can win," he claimed, adding that "they (TMC) have got alienated from the people in the last two-and-a-half years."

Asked if Dev`s popularity could affect his poll prospects, Rana said, "The young generation loves the actor and so they are going to see him... But while casting their vote, people will think of their basic needs and problems."

Although the battle for the Ghatal seat may prove to be a two-cornered one, Congress is looking to spring a surprise and has fielded a strong candidate in 63-year-old Bhunia, a former state unit chief of the party.

Bhunia was initially reluctant about contesting but was convinced about entering the fray after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi insisted that senior party leaders should lead from the front.

"I am hopeful about winning if the election is held in a free, fair and peaceful manner," Bhunia said.

Asked about his chances against the likes of Dev and Rana, Bhunia added, "Both are respectable candidates, but if the people think of availability and accessibility of their representative, I should be the natural choice."

The BJP candidate for Ghatal is Md Alam.