KOLKATA: Several poll candidates, irrespective of their party affiliations, are making a beeline for a Kali temple at Tarapith in Birbhum district of West Bengal. All of them believe that worshipping in this centuries-old famous temple will help them win the electoral battle.
Till now, at least 15 candidates, mainly from the ruling TMC, and the BJP have visited and offered pujas. Other than sweets, they also secretly offered bottles of liquor to the deity.
The moment former State Transport Minister Madan Mitra’s name was announced as a TMC candidate by Chief Minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee, his wife Archana, accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law, rushed to Tarapith, 250 km from the State capital. Mitra has been in jail for the last 15 months for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore-rupee Saradha chit fund scam.
Tarapith temple committee secretary Taramoy Mukherjee said, “Till date 15 nominees worshiped seeking the blessings of ‘Taara Ma’ (another form of goddess Kali) and donated huge sums.”
Notable among visitors was State Higher Education Minister Partha Chatterjee who is a TMC candidate from Behala West in the city. Film-star-turned-politicians such as Locket Chatterjee and Joy Banerjee, both contesting from Birbhum district, drew huge crowds when they visited the temple.
Mukherjee said, “Not only candidates from Bengal but also politicians from the adjoining Jharkhand come here to offer pujas. Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das is also a devout follower and frequently comes. During the last Assembly polls there, he came with his followers and stayed for quite a long time praying. We organised a special yagna for him.”
Film stars such as former MP Jayapradaa of the Samajwadi Party and Govinda of the Congress are also her devotees. Former CPM minister Subhash Chakraborty, who died in 2009, organised a special puja at Tarapith in 2008. Then Chief Minister Jyoti Basu had remarked after hearing about it, “He seemed to be scared of death and that’s why he went there.” Chakraborty was suffering from cancer.
The temple committee is expecting Mamata any day. She visited the temple after coming to power but usually visits the famous Kali temple at Kalighat on Bengali New Year’s Day.