The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rush to press before poll

Midnapore, April 17: Printing press owners here are working overtime. About a thousand CPM candidates contesting the panchayat polls in West Midnapore have already placed orders for letterheads as members of the village bodies.

Officials said most of them were likely to win uncontested or get a virtual walkover, being pitted against insignificant candidates.

Those who have made a beeline for the new letterheads are all first-timers.

One such candidate is Rahamat Ali, vying for a place in the Pakuria gram panchayat. After the last date for filing of nominations, he remains uncontested. The winner’s certificate is a formality.

“I want to have my letterheads printed early so that I don’t waste any time and can devote myself to development work without delay,” said Ali.

“The administration is still in the dark about such printing of letterheads by the candidates,” said district magistrate M.V. Rao. He is waiting for “specific complaints”.

The Opposition parties harped on their allegation that they could not put up candidates because of the “terror tactic” unleashed by the CPM.

In 143 gram panchayat seats in Keshpur block, there is no opposition from the Trinamul Congress, the BJP or the Congress. No Opposition candidates are in sight in Garbeta, Chandrakona Block II, Pingla and Danton. In the three Garbeta blocks with 472 seats, there are 41 Independent candidates fighting the CPM.

The district CPM brushed aside the “terror” charges. “I had personally announced that I was willing to offer my services to any Opposition candidate who was being prevented from filing his nomination,” said the district party chief.

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