Economy

Dissident Congress workers may queer the pitch for Trinamool

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay Kolkata | Updated on April 22, 2011 Published on April 22, 2011

Second phase: A polling official counts the sealed electronic voting machines atBolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal on Friday, on the eve of the second phase of the Assembly polls. — PTI

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As 50 constituencies of the three districts of Nadia, Murshidabad and Birbhum of West Bengal go to polls on Saturday in the second phase of the State Assembly elections, it will be interesting to observe the role of the dissident Congress workers who are contesting as Independents.

In Murshidabad, where in the 2006 Assembly elections, the Left had secured 14 out of the then 19 seats (22 at present after delimitation), the Congress has been regaining lost ground. It not only won all three Lok Sabha seats in the Parliamentary elections of 2009, but it also refused to share its success with its ally Trinamool Congress – an attitude that is still prevalent in the region as the Congress District President, Mr Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, has put up Independents in all the four constituencies in which the Trinamool is contesting – Bhagabangola, Hariharpara, Jalangi, and Sagardighi.

Mr Chowdhury's open defiance of the orders from the party high command in backing Independents has definitely come as a major blow to the Trinamool that was looking to establish a presence in the region. “With Adhir's support behind the Independents, there is little chance of the Trinamool winning in any of these seats,” a Congress worker in the region told Business Line. The Left had won all four seats in the 2006 elections, but in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls apart from Jalangi, it was Congress that got a lead from the remaining three constituencies. “Our chances of retaining these seats have now increased with Independents in the fray,” said a Left source.

Dissent within the Congress in Murshidabad is also a factor that cannot be ignored as far as division of votes is concerned. In Domkal constituency, which has been won by CPI(M) heavyweight in the district Mr Anisur Rahman since 1991, the local Congress workers have openly showed their displeasure against the party's choice of candidate – Mr Shamik Hossain, son of Murshidabad MP, Mr Abdul Mannan Hossain. Though Domkal is considered a CPI(M) stronghold, in the Lok Sabha elections of 2009, in which Mr Anisur Rahman contested and lost, he trailed by over 11,000 votes to Mr Abdul Hossain. “The local workers are disgruntled, nobody knows who Shamik Hossain is, Anisur is a far stronger candidate – all these factors may well turn the tide in the Left's favour again,” a Congress leader told Business Line.

NADIA

In Nadia too, the bickering alliance between the Trinamool and the Congress may prove advantageous for the Left. Not only are the four Independent candidates in the constituencies of Krishnanagar South, Karimpur, Kaligunj and Nakashipara being supported by party heavyweight and district Congress president Mr Shankar Singh, the Congress workers also displayed reluctance to campaign for the Trinamool candidates in the remaining 12 constituencies. “An alliance cannot only work one way. If they (Trinamool) want our support, they must extend to us some respect too,” a Congress worker in Krishnanagar town told Business Line.

The Trinamool leadership, however, relies on the anti-incumbency wave against the CPI(M)-led Left Front to wipe out the prospects of the Independents and the dissenting faction of the Congress. “Though a section of the Congress, driven by self-interest are not cooperating in the alliance, by and large we have been receiving good support from the Congress workers at the grass-root level,” said Mr Gautam Ray, a Trinamool leader from Krishnanagar.

BIRBHUM

Birbhum is expected to witness a close battle this time, as chinks started surfacing in this Red fortress, particularly with Trinamool candidate Shatabdi Roy's surprise victory in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The Opposition made further dents in this Left stronghold in the Civic elections in 2010, winning the prestigious Bolpur Municipality.

The Bolpur constituency, which has only once gone out of the Left's grip may now see a keen contest between sitting MLA, Mr Tapan Hore, of the RSP and Trinamool's Mr Chandranath Singha, Chairman of the Bolpur Municipal Board.

But Mr Hore has still an advantage over his rival, as the rural segment of the constituency still show allegiance to the Left. For the Nalhati seat, the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee's son, Mr Abhijit Mukherjee, will be contesting against sitting MLA, Mr Deepak Chatterjee, of the Forward Bloc. Here, however, the advantage lies with the Opposition, who in the last Panchayat and civil polls, have taken political control of the region.

Though in the 2006 Assembly elections, the Opposition could win only two seats – Rampurhat and Hasan – in the district, their chances have improved in four more constituencies in this election, that is, Suri, Sainthia, Nalhati and Murarai.

In Murarai, the Independent candidate from the Congress is expected to cut into a sizeable section of the Trinamool vote, giving Left the edge here. In the rest of the seats, it is the Left that appears stronger.

Published on April 22, 2011
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