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Cong worry for vote bank
- ‘Left-dominated’ segments added to Deepa seat qAbu Hashem to arrive on Wednesday

Raiganj, March 23: The Congress candidate for the Raiganj Lok Sabha seat, Deepa Das Munshi, is not resting easy on her poll prospects with the delimitation exercise somewhat queering the pitch as far as the party’s share of votes are concerned.

The sitting MLA from Goalpokhor in North Dinajpur and the wife of the ailing Union minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Deepa has been handed a reorganised parliamentary constituency where segments with Congress majority votes have been merged with other constituencies and those with CPM dominated vote patterns brought into Raiganj. This may augur well for the CPM candidate, Bireswar Lahiri.

According to sources in the district election cell, the Raiganj Lok Sabha seat in 2004 comprised the Assembly segments of Kharba, Ratua and Harishchandrapur in Malda and Raiganj, Itahar, Karandighi and Goalpokhar in North Dinajpur district.

After the delimitation, the three Assembly segments of Malda, from where Congress had polled winning votes, have been transferred to the newly formed North Malda seat. Itahar, though not a Congress bastion, has gone to the Balurghat Lok Sabha seat.

On the other, two Left-dominated segments — Kaliaganj under Balurghat and Islampur under Darjeeling — have been included into the Raiganj Lok Sabha seat along with Hemtabad and Chakulia, two new Assembly constituencies.

During the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Priya Ranjan Das Munshi had won from Raiganj, defeating his nearest rival Minati Ghosh of the CPM by 39,147 votes.

Deepa, however, is not worried about the new development and has shown a brave front when confronted with the situation. “The lead that we have lost because of the transfer of the three Malda Assembly segments can be made up by the Congress’s popularity in Islampur and Kaliaganj. In these areas, people are fully aware of Priyada’s contribution to the development and they will definitely be by our side. We are campaigning with full gusto and are not bothered about the results of the delimitation,” she said.

According to the last Lok Sabha figures, the Congress’ lead in Harishchandrapur was nearly 4,000, in Ratua over 10,000 and nearly 15,000 in Kharba.

In 2004, the Left led by nearly 10,000 votes in Kaliaganj and by over 25,000 in the Islampur Assembly segments, the ones newly added to the Raiganj seat.

The CPM district secretariat member, Subir Biswas, claimed that the Left had nothing to gain from the delimitation exercise.

“However, this time all the Assembly segments under the parliamentary seat fall within the district. This is a definite advantage for whoever is elected as development work can be smoothened out. We are happy about that. The Left is ahead of its rivals as far as the number of votes it will get,” Biswas said.

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