Kolkata, Apr 4 : Former West Bengal Chief Secretary and Trinamool Congress candidate Manish Gupta will take on his one time former boss and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on his home turf in Jadavpur Assembly constituency.
69-year-old Gupta, who recently joined the Trinamool Congress told PTI, "I served the people when I was an administrator. Now it is an opportunity given by Mamata Banerjee to serve the people better."
The high-profile bureaucrat, who served as district magistrate in the late 60s in Birbhum and rose to the post of chief secretary before retiring in 2001 under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, alleged that the Left Front had "degraded" the bureaucracy.
The bureaucracy, he said, was allowed to function freely during Jyoti Basu's chief ministership. "But it lost its importance in subsequent years."Bhattacharjee is seeking re-election from Jadavpur to retain the seat for sixth time in a row since 1987.
He defeated film actress Madhavi Mukherjee, fielded by Trinamool Congress, by over 36,000 votes in 2001 and increased his winning margin by over 20,000 votes when he humbled former state Relief Secretary Dipak Ghosh by 58,000 votes in the 2006 elections.
Jadavpur constituency, in south 24-Parganas district,has been a traditional red bastion since 1977 with the CPI(M) retaining the seat which represents both urban and semi-urban areas along the southern fringe areas of the metropolis.
The CPI(M)'s grip over the constituency has loosened since the last Lok Sabha election when Kabir Suman of the Trinamool Congress won the seat defeating Sujan Chakraborty of the CPI(M) by 56,267 votes.
In the last Kolkata Municipal Corporation elections in 2010 too, CPI(M) could not fare well.Of the 10 wards under borough 12, Trinamool Congress registered remarkable wins in six wards, leaving the rest to the CPI(M).
Gupta, considered a trump card of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, said, "I have met voters of all ages. I find an urge among them, particularly among young voters, for a change in the present government in the state".
Asked about being pitted against the chief minister,Gupta said, "At times I feel I will come out victorious. There is wide response whenever I visit the constituency. Its an experience."
Gupta said health, education, transport and infrastructure sectors have suffered in the past "which need proper attention in the interest of the people."
In the last four to five days, Gupta has travelled widely in the constituency in Santoshpur, Saphuipara,Nandibagan and Haltu areas.
Reserving his comment on the candidature of Gupta, the chief minister said, "I am not concerned who is contesting against me.
"I have worked with thousands of bureaucrats. Except a few, most of the retired bureaucrats are living peacefully."Bhattacharjee is a frequent visitor to his constituency and has held meetings at Haltu, Nandibagan and Baghajatin, besides holding an interactive session with students of Dinabandhu Andrews college.
The chief minister has not campaigned for any other Left Front candidate in the state in the last few days.Apart from Gupta, Bhattacharjee's one-time associate in CPI(M) Samir Putatunda, expelled from the party for anti-party activities in the recent past along with Saifuddin Chaudhury, a candidate of Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS), will be contesting from Jadavpur. PTI