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Target Mamata: CPM hits where it hurts most

Calcutta, May 15: The Marxists’ dream of cutting to size Mamata Banerjee in her own constituency appears to have come true, almost.

After three days of counting, the final panchayat poll score showed the CPM had eaten into Mamata’s South Calcutta parliamentary constituency.

The Marxists’ penetration into Mamata’s territory was symbolised by the Sonarpur rural belt, which constitutes a large part of the South Calcutta constituency.

“No Mamata magic, no Mamata wave,” said Shantimoy Bhattacharjee, the secretary of the CPM’s South 24-Parganas unit. “We have been given yet another mandate because people have realised that development is serious business, not to be trivialised by rhetoric.”

The Marxists demystified the “Mamata magic” — which has helped many Trinamul Congress candidates win in the past –- and scraped away more than 50 per cent votes from the main Opposition party in rural Sonarpur.

Drawing upon its well-oiled organisation, the CPM bagged 21 out of 27 panchayat samity seats and 7 out of 11 gram panchayats, where Trinamul had rode Mamata’s popularity to victory in the 1998 election.

The Marxists’ advance into the Trinamul fort extended into neighbouring Baruipur, a rural segment belonging to party MP Krishna Bose’s Jadavpur constituency.

Running through Trinamul’s resistance, the CPM mopped up 42 out of 50 panchayat samity seats, of which 25 were new acquisitions from Mamata’s party. Bose suffered another blow in Bishnupur and Magrahat (West), where the Marxists walked away with all four panchayat samitys.

For Trinamul’s first-time legislator Sonali Guha, who snatched Satgachia constituency from the CPM after Jyoti Basu gave it up before laying down office, the CPM’s advance was disturbing. A quick estimate reveals that the Left Front, especially the CPM, ate into 40 per cent of Trinamul’s gram panchayat and panchayat samity seats.

“This election is not reflective of popular will,” said Pankaj Banerjee, leader of the Trinamul legislature party. “It was a farce, manipulated from the word go. We don’t accept the results.”

“The outcome of the poll signifies new configurations in the days ahead,” said Biman Bose, CPM politburo member and front chairman.

The CPM and its allies increased their gram panchayat tally from 27,587 seats in 1998 to 34,229 seats, mostly at the expense of the Trinamul-BJP combine.

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