Almost all the nine candidates fighting for this seat are harping on development as the main poll plank with poor infrastructure, rural electrification and soil erosion being the primary concern of about 15 lakh voters here.

Located about 100-km away from Kolkata in Nadia district, Krishnanagar town lies along the Jalangi river and has seven assembly segments, five of which were bagged by Trinamool in the 2011 polls while the Left parties managed only two.

Thousands of people cross the river using a temporary bamboo bridge which has to be dismantled as the river swells during monsoons. Using boats, which are risky, is the only alternative, locals say.

During his 2009 Lok Sabha campaign, Paul had promised voters that he would build a concrete bridge across the river. As that promise remains unfulfilled, apathy of voters seems evident in complaints that the star MP was hardly seen in the constituency during the five years of his tenure.

In 2009, 55-year-old Paul had defeated CPI(M)'s Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, a former Asiad gold medallist sprinter, by 77,386 votes with veteran BJP leader Satyabrata Mookherjee coming third.

Mookherjee, who had won the seat earlier in 1999, is the BJP candidate this time as well while CPI-M has fielded Santanu Jha and Congress Razia Ahmed.

Paul, however, is confident of returning to Parliament riding the popularity of party head and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

"The most important factor would be the work done by Trinamool Congress across the state. I am sure that will make me win," said Paul.

Mookherjee, a former Union minister, however, claims that neither did Paul come here regularly nor did he use the MP-LAD funds.

"He didn't even raise his voice in Parliament. Everyone knows this," Mookherjee said.

Brushing aside the allegations, Paul said he has spent Rs 22 crore out of his MP-LAD funds for modernisation and expansion of Tehatta hospital, installing streetlights in Krishnanagar city, irrigation projects, buying ambulances, etc.

According to CPI-M candidate Jha, the people of Krishnanagar have not had the fortune of receiving any new roads under the present government.

"Many road projects undertaken during the years of Left Front government have been falsely accounted as the work of the present Mamata rule," he claimed.

Besides improving road connectivity with Kolkata, soil erosion is also another issue in the predominantly rural economy.

"My stress is on development and education as we are lagging behind in everything. Issues like roads, rural electrification, etc. are crucial for the people here," Mookherjee said.


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