The Telegraph
Saturday , April 18 , 2015

Battle of pride in central Calcutta

Pradip Ghosh

Over 100 women activists carrying placards and festoons with Narendra Modi's face emblazoned on them gathered at the makeshift BJP party office opposite the Santosh Mitra Square park a couple of days ago.

After wrapping up a 4-km walk through the serpentine lanes and bylanes of Taltala and Muchipara, they were listening to a veteran leader, a known face in Ward 50 that comprises a part of SN Banerjee Road, Bipin Behari Ganguly Street and Paran Chand Nahar Road.

He was Pradip Ghosh, a five-time Congress councillor from ward 50, who switched to the BJP last June after being removed as the party's central Calcutta district president in the aftermath of last summer's general elections.

Ghosh, 66, has now thrown his weight behind his married daughter Kajal, who is making her electoral debut by contesting as a BJP candidate. "Although I am not in the electoral battle, here's a straight fight between me and Trinamul in Ward 50," he said. "Trinamul is targeting me as I am steering my daughter's campaign. Now it is to be seen if I can wrest it from Trinamul."

In 2010, his daughter-in-law Tania, a Congress nominee from this ward, lost to Trinamul's Mausumi De by 327 votes. Ward 50 was reserved for women candidates in 2010. Against this backdrop, Ghosh had to contest from Ward 51 as a Congress candidate but lost to Trinamul's Sanchita Mondal by 2,122 votes.

"The senior Ghosh, who is backing his daughter this time, is no factor because he does not enjoy the organisational clout he used to in the past," Mausumi said.

According to her, the BJP, which got a lead over Trinamul in 26 wards in the last summer's general elections, trailed behind Trinamul in Ward 50 that falls in the Chowringhee Assembly segment.

But Kajal is banking on recent numbers. In last September's bypoll of the Chowringhee Assembly that was necessitated because of Trinamul legislator Sikha Mitra's resignation, the BJP got a lead of 751 votes over Trinamul's Nayana Banerjee in Ward 50.

"This is the only silver lining for us. There is no denying that organisationally we are not very strong in this ward," said Kajal. "So, reaching out to every voter is the only way out."

She said her brother Sajal, who switched to Trinamul in 2012 from the Congress, was "indirectly helping" her by not joining the campaign for Trinamul. Sajal said: "Blood is thicker than mere politics."

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