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Drum in hand & song on lips, Soumitra on campaign trail

- ‘Son of the soil’ walks over a kilometre beating the dhol as supporters follow in North Malda

Malda, March 11: Bhoomi singer and percussionist Soumitra Roy launched his campaign from Harishchandrapur today as the Trinamul Congress candidate for the North Malda Lok Sabha seat with what he does best, drumming up support to the beats of a dhol.

Soumitra arrived at his ancestral home in Harishchandrapur, 100km from here, around 11am today.

He reached Malda last evening on the Howrah-New Jalpaiguri Shatabdi Express and stayed the night at his late uncle Ram Prasanna Roy’s house. Roy was a Congress nominated Rajya Sabha member in 1962 and 1968.

Today, around 600 supporters and a band belting out Bengali numbers welcomed Soumitra at Harishchandrapur’s Hospital More. Overwhelmed by the welcome, Soumitra took up a dhol and began tapping it. He walked with supporters for about a-kilometre-and-a-half to the Trinamul party office where he was lifted up by party activists on their shoulders. “I am a son of the soil. I was born in my ancestral home here. I came and stayed here often. But I have never been received like this,” he said.

“Our leader Mamata Banerjee has chosen me to contest the North Malda Lok Sabha seat. I want your support and co-operation. Not only Harishchandrapur, I want the support of people in all the seven assembly segments that make up the seat. I want you to like me as much as you like Bhoomi,” he requested.

The musician also penned a few lines of a song after reaching Harishchandrapur. “Dhirey cholo majhi bhai, amaar to tara nai (row the boat gently boatman, I am in no hurry for the shore),” he sang. Harishchandrapur, Habibpur, Gajole, Malda, Malatipur, Chanchal and Ratua segments make up the constituency.

The Congress’s Mausam Noor, who is the niece of the late A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury, is the sitting MP from Malda North and is likely to be Soumitra’s rival this time.

After addressing party workers, Soumitra went to his ancestral house in Harishchandrapur and prayed at the family temple of Thakur Ram Kanai. He sought blessings of his 89-year-old uncle Arun Roy, who said: “May you be as successful in politics as you are in the world of music. That is my prayer to Thakur Ram Kanai.”

Soumitra met local people who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the musician. “Mamatadi has told me not to change. She has said I should change the constituency. It is backward in many aspects. I want to bring development and change, especially, in the field of education and health. I seek the support from all so that I can improve the region,” he said.

Local Trinamul leaders seemed pleased. “We are very happy that Soumitra, a son of the soil, has been chosen by Mamata Banerjee to represent us. We and the people of North Malda welcome him with open arms. Till 2009, our area (the seven segments) was under Raiganj constituency. All the elected members were outsiders. The CPM’s Subrata Mukherjee and the Congress’s Priya Ranjan Das Munshi were from North Dinajpur. Even our MP Mausam Noor is from Englishbazar. Soumitra is a true son of the soil. We are with him. In 2009, Mausam won by 59,000 votes. It will be a tough fight for her,” said Bikash Banerjee, Trinamul block president of Harishchandrapur I.

Of the seven Assembly segments in North Malda, three are with the Left and the Congress has four.