Dum Dum: Two former college teachers- sitting TMC MP Saugata Roy and rival CPI(M) candidate Asim Dasgupta- may be the primary contestants from this Lok Sabha seat but a re-energised BJP could upset electoral calculations in the constituency that is going to polls on May 12.
Dum Dum has been a CPI(M) fortress down the years and rival parties have managed to win in only five elections here, including BJP, whose candidate Tapan Sikdar has won twice - in 1998 and 1999. He is again in the fray this time.
TMC MP Roy, a former Union Minister of State, had in 2009 defeated sitting CPI(M) MP Amitava Nandy by a margin of 20,000 votes, the lowest ever in the constituency. Even now, Roy faces a tough challenge as political equations appear to have changed in this seat that has more than 12 lakh electors.
While CPI(M), trounced in 2011 assembly polls by TMC in West Bengal after having been in power for 34 years, looks determined to win back the seat, the recent opinion polls suggest that it is the BJP whose vote share will increase and not the Left`s.
According to political observers, Sikdar, who had won the seat in the late 90s mainly due to a wave in favour of Trinamool Congress and the TMC-BJP alliance, may affect the poll prospects of his party`s former ally.
Roy, a former Physics lecturer and an erudite leader known for his oratorical skills, seems certain about his prospects.
"I am confident about winning and my margin (of victory) will increase this time by leaps and bounds," Roy told PTI.
Roy is highlighting the developmental work undertaken by him over the last five years and his performance in utilising his MP-LAD funds for the constituency.
But his lack of success in opening industrial units in Dum Dum appears to be a factor which may go against him.
If the key to victory for Roy is the consolidation of anti-Left votes, then the prospects of CPI(M)`s Dasgupta depends on the division of anti-Left votes.
As the Left tries desperately to regain lost ground and benefit from the four-cornered contest in Dum Dum, CPI(M) candidate Dasgupta claims that voters are disillusioned with the TMC government and are all set to vote for him.
"From various roadshows that I have been conducting over the last two months, I feel that people who had deserted us want us to come back and they will vote for us," says Dasgupta, a noted economist who holds a PhD from the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. He has also taught economics at Calcutta University.
Dasgupta was the state finance minister from 1987-2011 during the Left regime, but has been criticised by the ruling TMC for allegedly following flawed economic policies which led to West Bengal incurring huge debts.
But posing a worry equally for Roy and Dasgupta is BJP`s Sikdar, who is tipped to be the dark horse for the seat.
Sikdar is seen as having the ability to cut into the anti- Left votes, which could be the deciding factor in this Lok Sabha seat.
"This election is for forming the government at the Centre. So it is BJP and (Narendra) Modi that is the best alternative... People will vote for us," claims Sikdar.
Sikdar, who had also contested from here in 2009 and secured about 55,000 votes, rejects the TMC viewpoint that it is CPI(M) which will benefit if he eats into the anti-Left votes.
Apart from the trio of Roy, Dasgupta and Sikdar, Congress` Dhananjay Moitra is also in the race here along with five other candidates, including those from BSP, PDS and CPI(ML). Moitra is a handpicked candidate of state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury.
All the seven assembly segments under the Dum Dum Lok Sabha seat are currently with TMC, although that feat was achieved by the ruling party with Congress as its ally in the 2011 state elections.