Kolkata: Maniktala assembly constituency in Kolkata this time will witness a tough electoral battle as Trinamool Congress (TMC) heavyweight and state consumer affairs minister Sadhan Pande is pitted against BJP nominee former Indian goalkeeper Kalyan Choubey and CPI(M) candidate Rupa Bagchi.
Chaubey’s job on the football field was to keep the net but he is on political turf now and his role has reversed.
In his electoral battle from Maniktala, the 44-year-old former Indian goalkeeper looks to net the ball for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
And he believes his experience in football will help turn the tide in favour of his party. “Politics is like football as both are team games,” he said.
Chaubey, who represented India in the early 2000s including in the SAFF championships, is confident that the people will send him to the state assembly as they want to get rid of violence “perpetrated by the ruling Trinamool Congress”.
“If voting is peaceful, we will wrest the seat from TMC this time,” he asserted.
“When I talk to people, I feel that they need a change. I also feel that this time round I’ve got an image,” said the former goalkeeper, who donned the jerseys of both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, traditional arch-rivals in Indian football.
“People want a change in West Bengal and they will act wisely before casting their votes for someone (Pande) who is 70 plus, is no more active and undergoes regular dialysis. I pray for his long life,” Chaubey said.
He claimed that there is widespread violence regularly in the Maniktala constituency between the rival TMC and Congress.
Chaubey is a graduate of the Tata Football Academy and has represented India between 1999 and 2006. In the domestic arena, besides Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, Chaubey has played for Goa’s Salgaocar FC.
On the other hand, Pande, who is the two-time sitting MLA from Maniktala and a six-time Congress MLA from neighbouring Burtola seat, exuded confidence about his party’s victory.
He said people of his constituency as well as Bengal would vote for the development work done by the Mamata Banerjee government over the past ten years and would not get swayed away by the divisive politics of the BJP.
Congress turned Trinamool Congress leader and minister for consumer affairs Sadhan Pande is not ready to throw in the towel for the next generation.
The north Kolkata strongman has been consistently winning his pocket borough Burtola assembly constituency braving the Left Front onslaught but after delimitation, he had to shift to Maniktala known as Kolkata North assembly constituency.
The septuagenarian leader is known for his public contact. He is known to be always there for his people, knows lanes and bylanes and clubs by heart and maintains a down to earth attitude.
Kolkata North is a traditional middle-class Bengali constituency but the area has seen a steady rise in multi-storey apartments over the past few years.
In 2016, Sadhan Pande of Trinamool Congress won the seat by defeating Rajib Majumder from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) with a margin of 25311 votes.
In 2011, Pande held the constituency on a TMC ticket. He secured 89,039 votes and defeated CPI(M) candidate Rupa Bagchi with a margin of 36,550 votes.
Maniktala Assembly constituency is falling under the Kolkata Uttar Lok Sabha constituency.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, All India Trinamool Congress candidate Sudip Bandyopadhyay won from Kolkata Uttar Lok Sabha (MP) seat with a margin of 127095 votes by defeating Rahul Sinha from the Bharatiya Janata Party.