The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scurry within CPM to bag cakewalk seats

Midnapore, April 15: With very few nominations filed by the Opposition parties for the zilla parishad seats in West Midnapore, the CPM is set to win big without contest. And that has spelt trouble for the party leadership, faced with the tricky task of balancing factions within it jostling for sure-win seats for personal favourites.

The Trinamul Congress has so far fielded only 9 candidates in the 62-member zilla parishad. Tomorrow being the last date for filing the papers, the possibility of more candidates being fielded seems remote.

All the zonal, local and branch committees of the CPM in the district are controlled by two major factions — one led by district secretary Dipak Sarkar and the other by his rivals, including party heavyweights like Laxman Seth and his associates. Despite being part of East Midnapore after the bifurcation of the Midnapore district, Seth wields considerable clout here.

It is almost certain that the CPM will retain control of the zilla parishad as most of its candidates will be elected unopposed. But thanks to the hectic lobbying for seats even sitting sabhadhipati Pulin Bihari Baskey has been facing opposition from within his own party in securing a nomination for the highest level of the three-tier panchayat system.

Baskey, who is known to be close to Sarkar, belongs to the Danton I zonal committee controlled by the anti-Sarkar faction.

The seat-share scenario within the party became so complicated at one point that Sarkar had to consult state party secretary Anil Biswas to clear the nomination for Baskey. Biswas’ intervention saved the day for the zilla parishad chief.

Several important members of the outgoing zilla parishad fell victim to the inner-party squabbles and many of them were denied nomination. Phullara Mandal, zilla parishad member in charge of women’s welfare, did not get a nomination this time round.

Another important member, Asit Sinha, who looked after the power portfolio in the outgoing parishad, was also dropped, allegedly because of inner-party rifts.

Both Mandal and Sinha belong to the anti-Sarkar faction in the district CPM. The Kesiari and the Garbeta zonal committees, which are controlled by Sarkar, did not approve the nominations of Mandal and Sinha.

The new guideline framed by the state CPM leadership for nominating party candidates for the rural polls also played an important role this time. According to the new framework, the zonal committees have been given the charge of nominating party candidates for the zilla parishads.

Baskey found it difficult to secure a re-nomination as the zonal committee to which he was attached was not under the control of Sarkar.

The new guideline has given enough power to the branch and local committees in nominating gram panchayat and panchayat samity candidates.

As all these lower level committees belong to the two opposing factions in the district, each of them worked hard to drop the candidates who did not belong to the respective camps.

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