Jui Biswas (second from left) interacts with residents of New Alipore. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
A week before Durga Puja, the Biswas family of New Alipore has little time to eat, can barely manage five hours of sleep and are out on errands for most part of the day.
A week before the elections, Aroop Biswas, the state housing and youth affairs minister, is busy formulating election strategies in the Sonarpur, Rajpur and Baruipur areas, the younger Biswas (Swaroop, Trinamul south Calcutta youth president) is organising roadshows and meetings in Tollygunge and Garia and the lady of the house, Jui Biswas (outgoing councillor and Trinamul candidate of Ward 81), is at home, hooked to social media.
For the Biswas family, contesting the elections is a cakewalk compared to organising the Suruchi Sangha Durga Puja, which family members say demands triple the effort.
"During Puja, I seldom have time to go home for meals or a nap but in the run-up to the elections, there is not much change in my daily routine. I still go on morning walks, chat with friends in the locality, enjoy my time at home and even cook for the family," said Jui, sister-in-law of Aroop, who first won from the ward in 2000, the year Trinamul formed the Calcutta Municipal Corporation board.
In 2005, Aroop doubled his margin with a lead of 4,871 votes. When the ward was reserved for women in 2010, Jui contested the election and won by more than 6,000 votes. "I need not do anything special during the poll because I have worked over the past five years and been in touch with the people everyday," said Jui, chatting with a group of local women at New Alipore Triangular Park on an evening stroll.
Jui said she was with her voters at all times - a lesson she has learnt from her brother-in-law. "If there is a death in a family, I join the mourning. If there is a wedding or some other celebration, I become a part of that too. Whenever someone in my ward invites me to their house, I make it a point to be there.... The way our family conducts the puja has also helped me maintain a cordial relation with the people of my ward."
Listing her achievements in the last term, Jui mentions removal of an open garbage vat and installation of a compactor station, improved lighting, better supply of filtered water to households, cleaning up a portion of Tolly's Nullah that passes through her ward and resolving sanitation as well as waterlogging problems in New Alipore.
The outgoing councillor also gives herself full marks for roads in New Alipore, which she says are "at their very best" and planting of trees that provide shade.
"Every morning, I walk through various parts of the ward and check if there is any problem. If there is a pothole or garbage dumped, I immediately call up the persons concerned and address the problem," said Jui. "I have addressed all the issues. Now we need to sustain the good work."
Five days before the poll, while candidates across the city were busy with roadshows, door-to-door visits and public meetings, Jui was sharing jokes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook and occasionally tweeting, asking Calcuttans to vote for Trinamul.
"When I contested the election for the first time in 2000, I had promised the people of New Alipore that I would make it a model ward. I am happy the promise has been kept. Now I don't need to run around, seeking votes for Jui. I am confident that the good work done by our family for 15 years will ensure her victory," said Aroop, on his way to a public meeting at Rajpur-Sonarpur, where civic elections are slated for April 25.