It has been close to two years since Pranab Mukherjee vacated his Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in order to become the President of India, but even today, he remains a central figure in this West Bengal constituency which votes on April 24. The campaign revolves around what Mukherjee has done, and has not done.
So, if Congress candidate and sitting MP Abhijit Mukherjee, the President’s son who won the by-election in 2012, talks of his father’s work in Jangipur, the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress are saying otherwise. At a rally in the town,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “Setting up two branches of some bank is not development. What will the poor do with bank branches if you do not have jobs or business?”
Banking on the building of an army cantonment at Nabagram, the foundation stone for which was laid by the President, Abhijit Mukherjee said, “The project will change the socio-economic scenario of the area. People will understand what was done.” The other projects of his father that Mukherjee reminds voters of include an army recruitment centre, a passport office, a provident fund office for beedi labourers, an Aligarh Muslim University campus at Suti, a thermal power station at Farakka, and several bank branches.
The CPM, however, has punched holes in Pranab Mukherjee’s projects. “His Army cantonment project is being built on fertile, multi-crop land. What industry was set up? What has he done for checking Ganga-Padma erosion?” asked Sandip Pandey, CPM local committee secretary.
Besides, what has Abhijit Mukherjee himself done? That’s the question the other candidates — the CPM’s Muzaffar Hussain and the TMC’s Haji Nurul Islam — have asked. “How much time has he got?” counter-asked Mohammad Sohrab, Congress Legislature Party leader and Jangipur MLA. “Even within the two years that he got, he arranged for money for the Jangipur Subdivisional hospital, a branch of the PF office at Sagardighi, etc. People should judge what the Congress has done since it got the seat in 2004 (the year Pranab got elected from here),” he added.