//West Bengal : CPM

West Bengal : CPM

Tanmay Chatterjee
KOLKATA, May 12: Notwithstanding the landslide victory, the CPI-M realises that even after three decades, it does not enjoy the trust of almost 50 per cent voters in the state, a good portion of whom are part of the poor and working class.
The party’s state secretariat today adopted a resolution this morning in which it appealed to its cadres and members to review the significance of this victory and make an effort to win back the confidence of those voters, especially the poor, who did not vote for the CPI-M.
This time the Left Front got 50.24 per cent of the total votes polled. This is better than 1977 when it came to power with just 45.87 per cent votes or even 2001 when the tally stopped at 48.99 per cent.
But going by the statistics, this year’s result cannot match the performance of 1982 and 1987 when the Left Front secured a little more than 52 per cent votes.
“It isn’t true that those who don’t vote for us support one particular party. But the essence of the verdict makes it clear that almost half the voters don’t directly support the Left. We have to work among the poorer sections with more dedication,” CPI-M state secretary Mr Biman Bose said today. Countering the argument that LF’s strength hasn’t increased much over the years and it survives on the division of Opposition votes, Mr Bose said: “Bengal is a mini India. There is so much diversity from one region to another than voting pattern cannot follow a formula. But coming back to power for the seventh time is an historic event in a democratic world”. But how could the LF have won so many seats? Senior CPI-M leaders believe that Left parties won the confidence of a sizeable section of first-time voters in the age group of 18-21 in the suburbs as well as in Kolkata, where anti-establishment feeling is prominent. “Over the last five years, this generation has only seen the development in the state. And it was during this period that the Trinamul and the Congress lost popularity and got entangled in infighting,” he said. In the villages of Burdwan, Bankura, Nadia, Midnapore and Purulia, self-help groups for women have worked wonders for the party. CPI-M leaders feel that Left candidates in at least 50 seats got overwhelming support from women voters.
While the CPI-M has managed to increase its strength, its partners have not managed to do so. The CPI-M, which started with 177 seats in 1977, has won 186 seats this year; an improvement over 1996 and 2001 when it won 150 and 143 seats.
The CPI got eight seats against six in 1996 and seven in 2001. The Forward Bloc has won 23 seats this year against 21 in 1996 and 25 in 2001. The RSP won 20 seats against its tally of 18 in 1996 and 17 in 2001.


Didi under fire from ranks

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, May 12: The meeting of the Trinamul Congress’ executive committee on Sunday to deliberate on the party’s poll debacle is likely to be stormy, with a majority of the party’s defeated candidates holding Miss Mamata Banerjee’s highhandedness and wrong decisions responsible for their disastrous defeat.
Miss Banerjee’s cardinal job now is to keep the party intact and stop the flight of leaders as well as the rank and file to the Congress. This is the first time in the party’s history that leaders and workers are openly criticising Miss Banerjee.
Insisting on anonymity, an election agent of a Trinamul candidate who has emerged winner, said: “I do not know whether didi has understood that people have rejected us.”
Workers and leaders said despite repeated requests, no attempt was made by those close to Miss Banerjee to set up an organisation. They said that the poor performance of the party in the 2001 KMC polls and the 2004 Lok Sabha polls had adversely affected the workers’ morale, but no attempt had been made to organise programmes to boost their spirits.
Most of the defeated candidates believe Miss Banerjee’s obstinacy cost the party dear. “There is absolutely no reason to keep link with the BJP as that party has no prospects in the near future,” a party leader said. About the Sunday meeting, a leader said: “It will be an exercise in futility, as none of our suggestions will be accepted by Miss Banerjee. But the time has come for her to change.” Mr Mukul Roy said that at the meeting, future programmes of the party would be discussed. He said Miss Banerjee would give a hearing to those who had been defeated and steps would be taken to strengthen the organisation and boost the spirits of workers.


Divided, they fell

Biswajit Roy
KOLKATA, May 12: Notwithstanding a state of Communist euphoria over Brand Buddha’s sweeping electoral success, the Left Front chairman, Mr Biman Bose’s acknowledgment that a little more than 50 per cent of the vote ~ less than a one and a half per cent increase compared with the 2001 results ~ had been won by Leftists revealed how a division in the Opposition contributed significantly to the LF victory.
It received 50.24 per cent of the vote in contrast to 48.99 the last time around. But the Leftists managed 36 additional seats as the Opposition had failed to to forge an alliance. Trinamul and the Congress said as much today.
Both the camps felt 70-80 seats had been lost as pro-Opposition voters were split between the Congress and Trinamul. Miss Mamata Banerjee, still smarting from the humiliating defeat, blamed it on the Congress which, in rejecting her appeals for a collaborative poll-centric enterprise, was felt to have permitted itself a cowardly betrayal. The party will discuss the debacle on Sunday. “We’ve yet to find out the number of seats where the Congress queered our pitch,’’ the party’s member of Parliament, Mr Mukul Roy, said. Mr Sougata Roy, having been undermined by the Congress in losing his Dhakuria seat, felt a very marginal increase in its share of votes had clinched it so spectacularly for the Left Front. “As in Kerala, these small swings make a big difference as the winning margin narrows down when the polling is fair,” he said. Trinamul lost its Burrabazar, Dhakuria, Maniktala, East Belgachia and Jorabagan seats as the Congress ate into its votes. The same phenomenon cost it four seats in North 24 Parganas, six closely contested ones in Howrah, three in Hoogly, five in South 24 Parganas, four in Nadia and three in the Asansol-Durgapur industrial belt. The Congress suffered similarly at two places in Nadia, where Mr Shankar Singh found himself edged out by 181 votes. In Hooghly’s Chapdani, Trinamul pulled the rug from under the Congress veteran, Mr Abdul Mannan’s feet. In Howrah’s Kalyanpur, the Congress chief whip, Mr Asit Mitra, failed to survive Trinamul’s attempt at self-assertion. The story was repeated in South as well as North Bengal. In North Dinajpur, Trinamul lost at Islampur and the Congress, at Chopra and Itahar for the same reason. The state Congress working president, Mr Pradip Bhattacharya, ascribed the rout to Miss Banerjee’s stubborn refusal to shun the BJP. “The Congress would have lost more seats, particularly in minority-dominated areas, if we’d sided with the Trinamul-BJP combine,’’ he said. Mr Bhattacharya admitted the Congress was now a diminished force in Malda, Murshidabad and North Dinapur ~ where Trinamul was virtually non-existent ~ because of the party’s failure to make the most of ABA Ghani Khan Choudhury’s legacy. Mr Mannan advocates Opposition unity for the next elections. “I hope (Miss) Mamata (Banerjee) strives for an alliance for the panchayat and parliamentary polls in 2008 and 2
009, respectively,” he said.

Bengal’s victory, says CM

KOLKATA, May 12: In an elated mood today, chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee thanked the electorate for giving their mandate to the seventh Left Front government in the state. “I attribute this victory to the people of West Bengal,” he said. The chief minister was at Writers’ Buildings for a meeting with MD, Tata Motors. In the evening, he left for New Delhi to attend the CPI-M Politburo meeting before the formation of the ministry of the Left Front government. Mr Nirupam Sen, industry and commerce minister, said: “People have accepted our industrialisation policy.”Mr Subhas Chakroborty, state transport and sports minister paid a short visit to Writers’ but shirked media persons. SNS