Days before Howrah North votes in the fifth phase of the Assembly elections, BJP’s candidate, actor-turned-politician Roopa Ganguly, is confident that the nearly 20 per cent of the minority voters will “accept” her.
While Ganguly’s fate, along with that of Trinamool Congress’ cricketer-turned-politician Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Congress’ Santosh Kumar Pathak, will be decided on April 30, the BJP leader appears content with the “popular opinion” regarding her. “I was shooed away by one of shopkeepers during my visit to the Muslim neighbourhood because the person doesn’t like the party I belong to, but four others held my hand, took me to their home where we had tea. If I had lost interest after the first refusal, I would not have known about the popular opinion,” she told The Indian Express.
Ganguly’s confidence is such that she drives her SUV through the constituency in the middle of the night and can “count the number of speed-breakers on my fingertips”. She says her fluency in Hindi and Bengali would help her connect with the “huge belt of Hindi-speaking people here”, something that “eases the (BJP’s) central leadership” which worries about the campaign. “I am also thinking of buying an apartment here so that I am not tagged as an outsider. I will stay here and remain accessible to the people of my constituency.”
Ganguly has outlined the key issues she will work on. “I intend to address the lack of drinking water and inadequate sewerage system. Besides, several industrial units have been shut down. We need to find a way to revive as many of these as possible. Cleanliness is another issue which is at the top of my priority list,” she said.
Howrah North, once a CPM stronghold — Lagan Deo Singh had been its four-time MLA, winning first in 1991 — moved to the alliance of Trinamool Congress and Congress in 2011 Assembly elections. Ashoke Ghosh ousted CPM’s Nemai Samanta by 19,610 votes while BJP’s Umesh Rai (16,494 votes) had to be content with the third position.
Pitted against Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Santosh Kumar Pathak, Ganguly claims to be in possession of the “qualities required to win”. “I always put my 100 per cent during my 25 years as an actor. I am confident of my success in my new stint (as a politician) as well,” she said.