The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahajot takes shape in Malda

Malda, July 13: Barely a day before the zilla parishad election, the BJP and the Trinamul Congress pledged open support to the Congress, bringing to life the idea of a mahajot (grand alliance) against the Left Front.

This is the first time in two decades that the Congress has come close to grabbing the zilla parishad. In the panchayat elections in May, the Congress bagged 15 out of the 33 parishad seats and the CPM 14. The BJP, Trinamul, the CPI and the Forward Bloc had won one seat each.

To keep the front from power, the Congress needs the backing of both the BJP and Trinamul. But enlisting the BJP’s help would be against the party’s stand.

Echoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the Pradesh Congress Committee leadership has said time and again that the party would have no truck with the “communal” BJP, dubbed as the party’s enemy number one at the national level.

“We will form the zilla parishad tomorrow. The BJP and Trinamul have decided to support us as they want to keep the CPM out of power,” Congress district president Rubi Nur said.

BJP district president Adhir Karmakar said his party has decided to back the Congress after it got a letter from the party’s district leadership. “We have no problems supporting the Congress in the election,” he said, refusing to disclose the contents of the letter.

Karmakar said the BJP only wanted the Congress-led body to deliver the goods. “All we want is that they should work for the people of Malda.”

He said the BJP had not yet decided whether it would join the Congress-led board. “We will discuss it at our party meeting.”

“We have already made it known to the Congress that we will support them in tomorrow’s election,” Biplab Nayek, a district Trinamul leader said.

He said the party made the decision to keep the CPM from grabbing power again. “Our state leadership has already been informed of our decision.”

The CPM district leadership denounced the coming together of the three Opposition parties as “an axis of evil”.

“The Congress has become so desperate to wrest the parishad from us that it did not mind joining hands with the communal BJP,” district CPM secretary Jiban Moitra said. The CPM would not take it lying down, he said, even if defeated tomorrow.

“We will expose the two faces of the Congress at the state level through a series of rallies we plan to hold in Malda and Calcutta,” the CPM leader said. He claimed some Congress parishad members had contacted CPM leaders, “but we refused to engage in horse trading”.

The CPM would organise a rally in Malda tomorrow to condemn the “unholy alliance”, a signal that it was unsure of retaining the parishad.

To keep its flock together in the run-up to the election tomorrow, the Congress has “put up” its members in former railway minister A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury’s house.

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