Friday, April 1, 2011

A bitter poll rivalry - all in family

By Sabyasachi Roy

Bankura (West Bengal), March 31

Relatives may be on different sides of the political divide but rarely is the rift so deep that they even refuse to speak to each other. But that is the case with a man and his nephew, who are rival candidates from the same constituency.

The Indus constituency in Bankura district will see the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate Santunu Bora contest against his maternal uncle and Trinamool Congress candidate Gurupada Mete May 7.

The two, who are fighting assembly polls for the first time, have not been on talking terms for over seven years.

Santunu, 42, working as a peon in a local high school, is the son of a former CPI-M member, the late Bodan Bora. Campaigning in the area, he accuses Trinamool leaders of carrying out atrocities in the area since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Not that he names his uncle specifically.

"He (Gurupada Mete) is my maternal uncle, but I have no links with him. He is contesting against me and I have nothing to complain about that. I will not comment on him," said Santunu, a CPI-M zonal committee member.

"Trinamool are carrying out atrocities on common people; they are hindering development. Even I was forced to flee from home twice as my house was damaged by Trinamool goons. My party has faith in me and given me the chance to uproot the Trinamool from Indus. Now, my only objective is to carry out my duty," Santunu told IANS.

Gurupada, who is block president of Trinamool, blames his nephew for the rift.

"As I contested in the 2003 panchayat election against the CPI-M candidate, I was socially boycotted in the area according to the CPI-M's diktat. I was even forbidden from fetching water from wells or taps," he said.

"That time Santunu, despite being my nephew, did nothing for me. This infuriated me and I cut off all links with him and his family," said Gurupada, who is over 47 years old and a full time political activist.

In the family, the animosity is not limited to the two.

Santunu's mother and Gurupada's elder sister Arnapurna Bora said: "I will be happy if my son defeated his maternal uncle in the poll."

The Indus constituency will go to the polls May 7 in the fifth phase of the six-phase West Bengal assembly elections. Counting will be held May 13.

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