| Sailen Sarkar campaigns in Ratua. Picture by Surajit Roy
Ratua, April 26: CPM heavyweight from the Ratua constituency, minister Sailen Sarkar, had a few uncomfortable moments yesterday, as he groped for answers to 'embarrassing' questions posed by his voters.
'Our village has cellphone access, but look at the roads, the abysmal condition of drinking water and erratic power supply,' said a resident of the Kehmpur gram panchayat area.
The Ratua Assembly seat, which has been retained by the CPM for some time now, is mainly an agricultural area, but farmers here still have to depend on the monsoon for irrigation.
'The scarcity of water sometimes stops us from sowing paddy and forces us to grow corn instead,' said Lutfar Rehman, a farmer.
Even most of the roads have remained kutcha over the past few decades and electrification tardy, some residents alleged.
Putting up a brave front, Sarkar countered the situation by saying: 'This is the kind of awareness among people we are looking for. It does not matter that I have come here seeking votes, what the people are saying is correct.' Sarkar spent the day touring areas in Samsi in his constituency, braving the scorching sun, and wherever he went, the demand was the same ' roads, water and power.
But village after village promised him that the CPM would be voted back to power. 'Be assured, you are going to win and then look after us better,' said one of the village elders.
Promising to keep his words, Sarkar told the crowd milling around him and his entourage: 'I have come for your votes. What I could not achieve in the past five years, I will fulfil during the next term as MLA.'
Local CPM leader and the headteacher of Chudulmoni High School, Nishikanta Ghosh, said efforts were on to make Sarkar win from Ratua by a higher margin this time. 'He has done quite a lot for the area and the people are looking forward to yet another term with him as MLA or minister,' Ghosh said.
Sarkar claimed that in the past five years, around Rs 100 crore have been invested for the development of the area. 'We have worked towards the improvement of power, water supply and roads, but there is a lot more work to do. We have also set up a 30-bed hospital in Samsi,' he said.