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Grand alliance votes out front

Champdani (Hooghly), Nov. 3: A grand alliance of the Trinamul Congress, the BJP and the Congress today wrested the municipality here from the Left Front.

The Opposition alliance won a no-confidence motion against board chairman Gobinda Sarkar of the CPM 13-9. Three Independents, who had earlier supported the front and helped form the board on April 14, unseating the alliance in a no-confidence motion, today changed sides and voted against it.

Apart from the Independents, four Congress councillors, four from Trinamul and one each from the BJP and the CPM voted for today’s no-trust motion. Seven CPM councillors and two from the CPI voted against it.

The civic body of Champdani, about 50 km from Calcutta, has been witness to fluctuating political combinations since it went to polls in May 2000. The Congress and Trinamul had then jointly formed the municipal board with the help of a BJP councillor and three Independents. The Left Front, which had won 10 seats, was two short.

A no-confidence motion signed by 10 councillors — four each from the Congress and Trinamul, one from the BJP and one Independent — was submitted to the chairman on October 21, alleging that the board was misusing funds and neglecting development. The motion was put to vote at 11 this morning.

A new chairman, most likely from the Congress, will be elected within a fortnight.

Ratan Sau, the CPM councillor who voted in favour of the motion, attributed his shift to “differences with the local party leadership”. “I am not happy at the manner in which our party has been running the board and neglecting development,” Sau said.

District CPM secretariat member Santasree Chatterjee rejected Sau’s excuse. “He is ambitious,” said Chatterjee. “Besides, he is not an active member of our party and we are not taking his views seriously. The district committee will meet on Thursday to review the developments.”

Local Congress legislator Abdul Mannan predicted “further exodus from the CPM”. “The CPM here is on the verge of a split. More CPM councillors may desert the party,” he said.

Trinamul MP from Serampore Akbar Ali Khondakar said: “We are really happy that we have succeeded in putting an end to the CPM’s writ.” The MP had kept a low profile since the Trinamul’s defeat in the Assembly byelections in Uttarapara, which is part of his Lok Sabha seat.

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