The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Panja paves way for CPM’s exit

Chinsurah, Aug. 8: A combined Opposition of the Trinamul Congress and the Congress today “re-wrested” Hooghly-Chinsurah municipality from the Left Front.

Six months after it dislodged the Opposition alliance from power, the front lost a confidence motion. Changed equations within Trinamul in the wake of rebel leader Ajit Panja’s return to Mamata Banerjee’s fold turned the table.

The Opposition had captured the municipality after the civic polls in 2000. In the 30-seat civic board, Trinamul had 12 seats and the Congress 4. The Left Front had 14 seats, including the CPM’s 11. The RSP had two members and the Forward Bloc one.

Sniffing an opportunity in the squabbles dogging Trinamul, the front tabled a no-confidence motion against the Trinamul-Congress board on December 24 last year. The party was divided between those loyal to Mamata and Panja and the combine lost the vote when Trinamul councillors Shibu Das and Sanjit Mandal sided with the Left. Differences of opinion had also cropped up between Trinamul chairman of the municipality Ashis Sen and some of the councillors.

But with Panja burying the hatchet and Mamata reinducting him into the party, the scenario changed. Das and Mandal voted against today’s confidence motion and the front’s tryst with power here came to a close.

“Earlier, we were misguided by some district leaders. Today, we made amends for our mistake and helped the party wrest the board from the communists,” said Das. Mandal nodded.

Stung by the humiliation, CPM chairman of the civic body Barun Ganguly admitted that the front had captured the civic body “by chance”, solely banking on support from the Trinamul rebels. “We should have maintained a distance from the rebel councillors,” said Ganguly.

“Ajitda’s reunion with Mamata has gone down well with the party rank and file. This will definitely help us regain the civic boards we had lost by small margins,” said Trinamul’s Pankaj Banerjee, the leader of Opposition in the Assembly.

Airport entry bar: The authorities at Dumdum airport have imposed a 9-day ban from August 10 on the entry of visitors in view of Independence Day. The restriction will be applicable in both domestic and international terminals.

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