Sovan to return with thumping majority in 2016 Assembly polls
In Behala East, it is a fight between the maker of modern Behala and a teacher, who wants to bring back the old days of muscle power in the guise of establishing democracy.
Mayor and the sitting MLA Sovan Chatterjee is fighting against Ambikesh Mahapatra, a representative of Amra Akranto backed by the CPI(M).
In the 1970s and 1980s, Behala had seen how red terror had paralysed the life of common people. One after the other the small and medium industries were closed.
There was no infrastructure and South Suburban Municipality was a den of corruption. In 1985, the municipality came under Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).
The CPI(M) had brought this area under the KMC not to improve the living condition of people but to ensure that its control over the civic body becomes permanent. However, such dream of the CPI(M) remained unfulfilled and Chatterjee is certainly among those who forced the CPI(M) to understand the ground reality.
With this backdrop the Assembly elections is being contested.
It is certain that Chatterjee will return with increased margin in 2016 Assembly elections.
There are reasons for it. Intense mass contact, foolproof organisational network and hard work have made Chatterjee sure of retaining the seat.
Chatterjee was the youngest councillor when the Kolkata Municipal Corporation introduced mayor-in-council system and held election in 1985. Behala, which was under South Suburban Municipality, had just come under the KMC.
The aspiration of people was skyhigh. Though it was a part of Kolkata but there were waterbodies, narrow roads with poor infrastructure and there was acute drinking water scarcity.
It was a red bastion. But despite that Chatterjee became a councillor because of his immense popularity. He became very close to Mayor Kamal Basu.
A lean and thin 23-year-old boy used to push CPI(M)’s leaders on backfoot by asking series of questions in the monthly meetings.
He is successful in keeping his popularity and vote bank intact. In 2011, he defeated Kum Kum Chakraborty of the CPI(M) by a margin of 48, 173 votes. In 2014 election, the Trinamool Congress took a lead of 21,576 votes in this segment. Thus statistically Trinamool is in a sound position in Behala.
Chatterjee is a councillor of KMC from 1985. He was the member of mayor-in-council in charge of water supply between 2000-05 when Subrata Mukherjee was the mayor.
Over the years Behala has been given a new look. There are shopping mall, roads are properly maintained, rods are brightly illuminated and the parks are improved. Morning and evening walkers throng around these parks which they could not have thought a decade ago.
Drinking water was a major problem in Behala. Now booster pumping stations have come up and people are getting piped water.
The pockets where drinking water crisis still persists will be ironed out soon as construction of a booster station is on.
Chatterjee introduced the waiver scheme which fetched over 400 crore to KMC’s coffer.
But a veteran politician Chatterjee is not ready to take one per cent risk. He completed door to door campaign and road shows. Those who live in Behala know very well that in times of need they will get Kanan, Sobhan’s nick name by their side. Unlike other areas there is no infighting in Trinamool Congress.
Mahapatra is backed by CPI(M). He is a member of Amra Akranto and came to limelight after he was arrested in connection with the cartoon case.
“An apparently feeble opponent is dangerous and I have visited every house and people can see the development that has taken place in Behala,” Chatterjee said. We will have to wait till 19 May to see with how much more votes he is returned this time.