Malda, Feb. 22: At half past 10 on Monday night, Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury wrapped up his campaign of the day in Englishbazar saying: “Vote for me as the sole political heir to A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury and help me develop Englishbazar.”
Krishnendu could be mistaken for the Congress candidate, but he is rival Trinamul’s man. His switch from the Congress to Trinamul made the bypoll necessary.
But his campaign claim to be the late Ghani Khan’s successor is similar to the Congress’s, the party which Ghani Khan served.
Earlier on Monday evening, Congress candidate Narendranath Tewari, also took the name of the late Congress veteran in his campaign to tear into Krishnendu.
“Don’t vote for a person who is now trying to fall back on Barkatda to win the byelection. He is a political opportunist and is no better than a betrayer because he left our party six months ago to become a minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet,” Tewari told a cheering crowd. “People will vote for me because I am a candidate from the party that Barkatda represented.”
But people in Malda, it seems, need more than the evocation of Ghani Khan’s name.
Hannan Sheikh, 55, a resident of Kazigram, seemed unhappy with Krishnendu, who is now the tourism minister. Hannan lamented the “untimely” election when asked about the Trinamul minister’s prospects.
“We elected a person for five years in 2011. But within 20 months, another untimely poll has been forced on us because of Krishnendubabu’s switch to Trinamul to become a minister,” he said.
In the 2011 Assembly elections, the Congress won eight seats in Malda, the Left three and Trinamul one.
Trinamul has deployed senior leaders such as Mukul Roy, Jyotipriya Mullick and Subrata Bakshi to campaign for Krishnendu.
The CPM appears determined to cash in on the split in anti-Left votes. The party has fielded a DYFI leader, Kaushik Mishra, replacing Samarendra Roy, who had lost in the 2011 polls to Krishnendu. “Our candidate is a popular youth leader. I’m sure that with the non-Left votes being split this time, we will be the gainer,” said CPM’s Malda district secretary Ambar Mitra.
“The BJP had got about six per cent of the votes in the last election here. If it increases its vote share it would help us too.”
BJP candidate Sanjit Mishra, too, is hoping that his party would get a larger share of votes since, according to him, many non-Left voters are disillusioned with Trinamul and the Congress.