Pranab files nomination, eyes second Lok Sabha win (Lead, Changing dateline)

April 13th, 2009 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Baharampur (West Bengal), April 13 (IANS) Senior Congress leader and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday filed his nomination from West Bengal’s Jangipur constituency, seeking his second Lok Sabha win of his four-decade long political career.
The 74-year-old Congress veteran, who made his maiden entry to the Lok Sabha in 2004 from the rural seat that is along the Indo-Bangladesh border, filed his papers at the office of the Murshidabad district magistrate.

Mukherjee, who is the West Bengal Pradesh Congress president, reached the district magistrate’s office along with two other party candidates and sitting candidates Adhir Chowdhury and Mannan Hossain. Chowdhury and Hossain are fighting from their old constituencies of Baharampur and Murshidabad, respectively.

Jangipur, 260 km from state capital Kolkata, has a majority Muslim population, with its electorate including 600,000 bidi workers.

Murshidabad, the only Muslim majority district in the state, was the capital of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa during the rule of the nawabs.

Mukherjee’s main rival will be Jangipur municipality chairman Mriganka Bhattacharya of ruling Left front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

In 2004, Mukherjee had defeated CPI-M candidate and three-time MP Abul Hasnat Khan by over 36,000 votes.

Speaking to reporters after formally entering the fray, Mukherjee rubbished the CPI-M allegations that he had done nothing to improve the condition of the bidi workers.

“This is completely false. I have been representing this constituency for only the last five years. During this time, a provident fund office has been set up for the bidi workers,” said Mukherjee.

He also said that following his initiative the number of schools has gone up from 40 to 140 in Jangipur, with 7,000 students on the rolls.

“It is the largest such project in the country. Thousands of families of bidi workers have benefited. The CPI-M could never do all this,” said the minister, who has completed two rounds of campaigning in the backward constituency.

When Mukerjee opted to contest from Jangipur in 2004, mainly at the instance of district Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury, political opponents had dubbed him an outsider and scoffed at his bleak election record.

Till that time, Mukherjee’s electoral successes had been limited to the Rajya Sabha.

“The media used to call me a rootless wanderer. People of Jangipur have given me a new recognition,” he said recently.

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