KOLKATA, 26 APRIL: The Maa-Mati-Manush sentinel and Trinamul Congress candidate for Kolkata Port Assembly constituency, Mr Firhad Hakim, promised a ‘Sonar Bangla’ for slum dwellers. Having a large number of supporters, Mr Hakim, also one of the Mamata favourites, went from on door to the door in bastis of Banerjee Bagan and Fatehpur promising better civic amemities for the area.
The campaign that started at 9 a.m. went on till 11 a.m. The leader felt that two hours of campaign was enough for the sitting MLA of Alipore, a constituency that has been abolished after delimitation. His targets were clear. He has been campaigning rigorously in the slums where he faces tough competition from Forward Bloc’s Mr Moinuddin Shams, a first-time contester and son of former food minister, Mr Kalimuddin Shams. Mr Kalimuddin Shams was known to have been hugely popular in the region.
Adding fuel to the fire is Mr Ram Pyare Ram, a six-time Congress MLA from the erstwhile Kabitirtha, who is fighting in this turf independently. The dissident MLA had been a nine-time councilor from the area.
While the CPI-M leaders have been continuously stressing on development of the slums while highlighting Trinamul Congress’ silence on the Centre’s attempts to “allow real estate businessmen to use a portion of slum land to construct housing complexes”, Mr Hakim had been underlining the Trinamul’s vow to construct 10 lakh houses for shanty-dwellers and refugees, a sizeable portion of which resides in the Kolkata Port constituency.
With folded hands, supporters shouting slogans, Mr Hakim listened to people who complained about issues pertaining to old-age pension and drainage. Though the number of people who quietly saw him off with a smile or a nod was larger, a few spewed a litany of complaints to the KMC member-mayor-in-council for roads and engineering, Mr Hakim. “After we took over the corporation, work is being done. If we come to power, you will see the difference,” he assured the people. Even those who raised a gamut of civic and other issues remained tight-lipped over the high crime rate and underworld operations in the region.
Similar has been his promises to residents of multi-storied houses and apartments in other parts of the constituency.
Pitted against strong contenders, Mr Hakim seemed confident. “People here have already embraced the Trinamul Congress. Look at the civic poll results. People here have faith in Miss Mamata Banerjee,” he said. The campaign was completed in a hurry. Mr Hakim and other supporters had to rush for a rally that was scheduled for 11 a.m.