With just 20 days left before the election in 18 seats in Jangalmahal on April 4, Trinamool Congress is miles ahead of its opponents in campaigning.
The Congress is yet to finalise its candidate in Kharagpur seat. BJP’s state president Dilip Ghosh is contesting from the seat. Veteran Congress leader Gyan Singh Sohanpal who was a minister in Siddhartha Shankar Roy’s Cabinet between 1972-77 has expressed his desire to contest from the seat.
But Congress is yet to select a candidate and WBPCC is not willing to give nomination to Sohanpal due to his ailing health.
The last date of nomination for these seats is March 18 while scrutiny will be held on March 19.
The date of withdrawal has been fixed on March 21.
The constituencies where election will be held on the first day of the first phase on April 4 are Nayagram, Gopiballavpur, Jhargram, Shalboni, Midnapore, Binpur, Bandwan, Balarampur, Bagmundi, Jaypur, Purulia, Manbazar, Kashipur, Para, Raghunathpur, Ranibandh, Raipur and Taldanga.
Jangalmahal, between 2006-11 had hit the headlines after it became a haven for the Maoists with murder, arson and intimidation of people affecting the peace of the area.
The office in charge of Bandwan, Nilmadhab Das was murdered by the Maoists on October 11, 2003. After coming to power the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee visited the area quite frequently and that had helped people to regain their confidence in administration.
Series of development started under various schemes like Kanyashree, Sabuj Sathi and Khadyashri.
Schemes for the Kendu leaves’ collectors and insurance schemes for them have changed their lives. An English medium residential school for the SC students in jungle being run by the Ramakrishna Mission has given confidence to people that in next five years the area will be able to come out of the tag of being described as a “backward area.” Party workers and local leaders are carrying out campaign rallies. The horror of red terror in the area still exists in the minds of the people and they have seen the development in the past four and a half years which includes construction of roads for supplying drinking water. The CPI(M) workers who had unleashed red terror in the area are not willing to go to the area to campaign, fearing backlash from the local people. The party is yet to open its local committees which got closed after poll debacle in 2011. The Opposition is not likely to put up any fight in 18 seats here where election will be held on April 4.