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Doc has finger on pulse of voters

Madhura (Birbhum), April 24: Lack of drinking water, few health centres, bad roads…. Kamre Elahi has one answer to all ailments — his stethoscope.

The equipment hanging from his neck, the CPM candidate for the Birbhum Lok Sabha seat leaves home at 7 every morning. He doesn’t head for his chamber, but leads a group of CPM workers on the campaign trail.

Elahi says he prefers treating voters for free rather than promising them amenities.

The 50-year-old doctor passed out of R.G. Kar Medical College in 1986 and did his masters in surgery before working in various government hospitals.

A resident of Suri, the CPM candidate resigned from health services in 2001 and now runs a nursing home in his hometown.

“Wherever I go to campaign, poor and ailing people plead with me to treat them. Nowadays, I ensure I carry my stethoscope every time I leave home,” Elahi said yesterday after examining an asthma patient at Madhura village in Nalhati.

“People are interested in me as I am a doctor. Drinking water is a problem here, so are lack of health centres. But first, we need to cure people of ailments,” he added.

Elahi, who has been pitted against Trinamul’s Satabdi Roy and the BJP’s Joy Banerjee, was a two-term MLA from Birbhum’s Muraroi till 2011. He was defeated by Trinamul’s Nure Alam Chowdhury in the 2011 Assembly elections.

“Before filing his nomination, he (Elahi) did not carry a stethoscope daily. But after he started touring the villages to campaign, he makes it a point to take it along,” a CPM worker said.

Asked about his stethoscope, Elahi said: “I usually change stethoscopes every three months. I bought one about a month ago, before I started campaigning.”

While campaigning in Madhura village yesterday, Elahi attended to asthma patient Pir Mohammed Sheikh and Sanaullah Sheikh, who was suffering from common cold.

The two villagers waited under the blazing sun for Elahi to finish his speech and attend to them.

Partha Pratim Guha, a local CPM leader who has been accompanying Elahi on the campaign trail, said: “Kamre Elahi is not a film personality like Satabdi Roy or Joy Banerjee. But we believe a doctor can appeal more to voters, particularly when patients can approach him for treatment.”

According to district officials, one of the main problems faced by voters in the rural areas of Birbhum is lack of drinking water. The number of water sources such as tube-wells and dug wells is less than required. Other problems, the officials added, include lack of proper health centres and bad roads.