If there is any one seat in North Kolkata where Trinamool Congress is absolutely certain of victory, it is Maniktala.
State Consumer Affairs minister Sadhan Pandey is fighting to retain the seat and increase the margin of victory.
In 2011 Pandey had defeated CPI(M) candidate Rupa Bagchi by a margin of 36,550 votes. While Pandey got 89,039 votes, Bagchi had bagged 52,489 votes. BJP nominee Nandalal Singhania got 3663 votes. In 2014 Lok Sabha election, TMC nominee Sudip Bandopadhyay took a lead of 18,785 votes from this segment. Thus, statistically Pandey is much ahead of his competitors. Manicktala is a new constituency created in 2011 because of delimitation.
It may be recalled that when Mamata Banerjee set up Trinamool Congress in 1998, she had two lieutenants beside her, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay and Sadhan Pandey.
All other political leaders joined her later. Pandey is a veteran of many battles and has been an MLA for many years. Coming from an aristocratic family in North Kolkata, his family had patronised theatre movement in the 18th century. Monomohun Pandey, his ancestor was known to Sri Ramakrishna.
Pandey’s biggest success is he has put an end to the infighting in TMC. There was a time when he had differences with Atin Ghosh, member, mayor in council (health) and a powerful TMC leader of North Kolkata.
It is said that Pandey had tried to backstab Ghosh during the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) poll in 2015. But after the civic board was set up, Pandey buried the hatchet with Ghosh to strengthen the party’s base in North Kolkata.
Congress is virtually nonexistent in the area and the senior leaders do not support its alliance with CPI(M). Thus Pandey is likely to get the benefit of the so called alliance.
In the past few years, the KMC has improved the roads and the steps taken to beautify the area are palpable. The problem of water-logging has been reduced and drinking water problem has been sorted out.
Pandey is well known for his mass base. He has contacts with all the local clubs, some of which have got financial assistance from the Sports department. Over the years he has earned the confidence of local people who feels that in time of need he will be beside them.
For Pandey winning the elections is a cakewalk. Like a 100m runner he has seen the finishing point and all that he has to do is to go and touch the rope and lift the winning trophy.