Arya Sharma/Catch News
Lalgarh, the former hotbed of Maoist activities in West Bengal's Jangalmahal, goes to the polls on 4 April, under the Jhargram constituency.
This place shot into limelight in the year 2008, when then-Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's convoy was attacked while they were on their way back after inaugurating the Jindal Steel plant in Salboni.
Then followed a state crackdown on alleged Maoists - an event that shaped the subsequent politics of the area and the ultimate ouster of the Left Front from West Bengal.
Laxmi Kanta Das is, in a way, the harbinger of change for Lalgarh. The entire Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited service office is manned by this 32-year-old father of two, who is not even a permanent employee.
Das, whose primarily role is that of a lineman, earns just Rs 2,000 a month, but is responsible for the functioning of all the 150 connections in the area - 100 landline telephones and 50 broadband connections.
His salary is too meager to run a family of six with young kids, so he runs a tailoring shop right next to the BSNL office. Despite all the hardship, Das is a content man.
"We have seen a huge improvement here. College, schools, roads, bridges everything," Das says. His five-year old daughter goes to school while his three-year old son will soon follow suit.
In 2011, TMC candidate Sukumar Hansda, a former medical officer of West Bengal, had wrested power from CPI(M)'s Amar Basu, following a groundswell of support for Mamata Banerjee.
But he concedes that there are Left supporters in the area, and they may get considerable number of votes in the constituency.
People like Das, who have benefitted from modernisation in this once-forbidden zone, are using their youth and enterprise to build there lives afresh.
Das has only one complaint against Mamata - her failure to bring in industry and generate jobs.
"There are no factories here, and thus, no employment. So, there is no way I can afford to change my job," he says.
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