Dev (C), during a state election campaign rally in 2015. (Photo by DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

He knows people are interested in seeing him in person and taking selfies, rather than listening to his speech from a political dais. But he is clear in his mind about making it again to Indian Parliament and that’s what he is working for nearly 40 days.

“I know that it’s my stardom which is bringing people to rallies. They want to see me. But the larger public knows I’m contesting for parliamentary election. So I’m focused on doing that,” Deepak Adhikari aka Dev, Bengal superstar and sitting Trinamool Congress MP from Ghatal constituency in West Midnapore district, told PTI in an interview.

Dev, called the “son of the soil”, was re-nominated by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee for the second time from Ghatal and said he expected this.

“Getting a renomination was not a surprise. I knew it was coming. I was ready. And sometimes you cannot put down when someone special (Banerjee) asks you to do something. To be honest, I’m quite liking it seeing that our beloved didi has trust in my abilities as a politician,” Dev said, sitting at his small make-shift party office room here.

Talking about his experience as a politician, the superstar said it has matured him a lot.

“Politics has helped me grow. To unfurl me. But the real job is to be in politics for the cause of people, to fight for their cause,” he said.

“These days there is a growing trend among people from different fields, mostly the film world, to get into politics and take advantage of power. There are many in our industry (Tollywood) also. And Bollywood is showing us the path. It’s maximum there,” he said.

Asked how tough it was to shuttle as an MP and as an actor, Dev said, “Very tough”.

“But, I’ve given my best as an actor in the past five years. My film Amazon did a great business breaking all previous records. I’ve done very good as a producer also. So I believe it’s a golden time for me. The maximum came in the past five years.”

When pointed out his attendance in Parliament was only 11 per cent in the past five years, Dev said he knows his attendance was “very less”.

“I wanted to give my 100 per cent. I did not see any reason to stay there. I found it was a wastage of time. With people shouting out of their lungs and nobody able to hear what the other person is saying or trying to say I thought it was better to work for people at the ground level.”

On his achievements as an MP, Dev said he tried to fulfil expectations of people.

“I don’t know how much I had been able to fulfil expectations in my constituency. In Parliament, I spoke about the Ghatal masterplan and the Balichak bridge,” he said.

Alleging that the BJP was pumping huge money in the entire state, Dev said there’s “almost nobody” who can match Banerjee’s development work in the state and hence people are trying to malign her image.

“They (the BJP) are trying to divide people. I’ve information that huge money was distributed to buy out people and vote for them. But people know what our beloved Mamata di has done for them. And the opponents know how powerful Mamata di is. That’s the reason they are trying hard to malign her,” he said.

Talking about his BJP opponent, former IPS officer and Mamata Banerjee’s close aide Bharati Ghosh, 36-year-old Dev said, “I know Bharati di for a long time. But I think the manner she is talking to locals, to police officers during her campaign is quite intimidating. Her words were quite derogatory. Her attitude was a blow to the respect I have had for Bharati di. And you can see how desperate she is to win the election. She knows she has to win it, she has so many cases against her pending in courts.”

Asit Maiti, a tea-stall owner, however, appeared unhappy because of Dev’s long absence from the constituency.

“Arey sir, it’s TMC everywhere but we’ve not seen our MP in five years. Where was he all this time? He has come now because he needs our votes. But then there’s no option either. The other candidates are worse,” Maiti, a TMC supporter, said.

Satya Halder, a medical practitioner, too questioned Dev’s achievements as an MP.

“He cannot even speak clearly. Have you ever heard him speaking at the campaigns here?He only speaks for 2-3 minutes and then starts taking selfies with people on state. We have no other option because other candidates are just bogus. We have not forgotten how torturous Bharati Ghosh was as an SP here,” Halder said.

Ghosh, who resigned as the SP of West Midnapore in 2017, has been accused of extortion by West Bengal CID.

The former IPS officer, who joined the BJP in February this year, said “atrocities” were happening under the current TMC rule in the district and in entire West Bengal.

“People eagerly want to change the government. There is no independence here. People are living in an atmosphere of fear. We have to bring peace here,” Ghosh told PTI.

CPI candidate Tapan Ganguly, too, said there’s a good number of people with his party, but they are scared to come out in the open as its supporters.

“There are sensitive pockets in Ghatal seat where conducting polling would be a challenge. Central forces must be deployed and if people are allowed to vote (freely), the mandate will be different,” Ganguly said, referring to the violence during the 2018 panchayat polls.         Ganguly also questioned Dev’s absence from the constituency.

“Tell me what has he done for the area. What’s been achieved was started during the Left rule. I doubt his abilities,” Ganguly said.

The Congress has nominated Mohammed Khandakar Saifullah.

With a total of 17,97,685 voters spread over seven assembly segments, the parliamentary constituency will vote on Sunday in the sixth phase.

(PTI)