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Poll doctors and doctorates, and the Presidency connection

Calcutta, March 5: Biomechanics versus oceanic history in Jadavpur, economics versus physics in Dum Dum, gynaecology versus general medicine in Barasat.

Electoral battles, usually associated with brawn, will see a bit of brains as well in Bengal as the 42 Lok Sabha seats are likely to have at least 12 physicians and 10 doctorates in the fray.

Five physicians and five doctorates each figure on the list of candidates announced today by the Left Front and the Trinamul Congress. Of the 17 candidates the BJP has announced so far, two are physicians.

Biomechanical engineer Sujan Chakraborty of the Left will take on professor of oceanic history from Harvard University and Trinamul candidate Sugata Bose in Jadavpur. Former Left Front finance minister and economist Asim Dasgupta will challenge Trinamul’s sitting MP Saugata Roy, a professor of physics.

Gynaecologist Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of Trinamul will fight general physician Murtaza Hossen of the Left in Barasat.

Although the Congress is yet to announce its list, party sources indicated there could be some such candidates on their list too.

Political veterans like Roy said the candidate lists of the 2014 elections were “in general better” than those in previous years in terms of participation of doctors and teachers.

So what led the parties to pick so many doctors and doctorates?

Roy, a physics professor, is aiming to hold on to his Dum Dum seat, staving off the challenge thrown at him by his senior in Presidency, Dasgupta.

“It’s a simple case of popular perception. Education matters in Bengal. When a party brings such people forward, people look up to such a party,” Roy told The Telegraph. “This is something our party chief has always been in favour of,” he added.

Today, Left Front chairman Biman Bose launched a veiled attack on Mamata while announcing the Left’s list of candidates. “There are many doctors and doctorates on our list. Our doctorates have achieved their degrees through a lot of hard work,” Biman Bose said, a reference to the controversy a few years ago over a doctorate degree associated with Mamata.

A battle of brains during campaigning offers the chance of educated, well-informed debates and relatively cleaner contests, said an Election Commission official.

The best example of this in recent memory is the Khardah Assembly election in 2011, where Amit Mitra faced off with his Presidency senior, Dasgupta.

“During the Khardah election campaign, there was never any mud-slinging or use of crass language. There was no dirty politics, at least on the surface. It was a case of an economist taking on another economist on policy issues. There was never any visible lack of respect on either side. It was quite a treat,” said Deeptarko Chowdhury, a first-year MA student of Jadavpur University.

Sugata Bose, the grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, today expressed happiness at being nominated as a candidate for the Lok Sabha polls.

“I am very proud to have got a chance to contest from the constituency where the chief minister had won her first Parliament election 30 years ago. My mother Krishna Bose had also won the seat (Jadavpur) thrice. I know the constituency very well,” he said.

CPM state secretariat member Rabin Deb said a healthy trend was emerging in Bengal politics.

“Mass movements in this state have historically been led by the educated sections. Although the Left Front has always tried to get such people to contest elections, that was not the case with the other parties. This is the beginning of a healthy trend, perhaps,” he said.