The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM predicts a shock or two

Calcutta, May 8: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee believes the Left will produce a shock result or two in Calcutta and its neighbourhood in the May 10 polls, dispelling the notion about its lack of popularity in the city.

“Mark my words, our candidates are going to spring more than one surprise in Calcutta and adjoining areas. For example, it may not be visible to untrained eyes how well entrenched we are in Calcutta Northeast,” he said in an interview to The Telegraph.

It’s also the constituency where the chief minister’s wife, Meera, is campaigning — for the first time. “She is fond of (Md) Selim (the CPM candidate),” Bhattacharjee said, laughing.

As he goes about trying to correct perceptions about Bengal among business leaders, the chief minister is convinced that the city, which has been rejecting CPM candidates particularly in the Lok Sabha polls, is also on churn.

“Many do not understand that Calcutta’s political chemistry has changed. It will further change in our favour in the days ahead. We are committed to developing Calcutta as a modern, international city,” he said.

It’s a pledge that had not been heard from the CPM earlier. “Our programme for Calcutta’s beautification will be fully visible after the election,” the chief minister added.

The chief minister does not think Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee’s campaign focus on what she calls “failures” of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is quite right. “How can a state government be evaluated in a parliamentary election'” he asks.

But, after three years in office, he doesn’t really mind if this election is seen as a mid-term appraisal of his government’s performance. “I feel our share of seats should increase this time.”

He knows how important it is for Bengal to take a higher number of seats to Delhi, if his party’s objective of helping to form an alternative to the BJP-led government is to be fulfilled.

“Our first objective is to try and dislodge the Vajpayee government,” he said. If the BJP-led alliance falls short of the majority mark, the first effort of the CPM, which has already started, will be to bring together Left, “secular” and regional groups.

“If we do not get the necessary numbers, our only option will be supporting the Congress.”

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