The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM rides on anti-Left split

Islampur/Calcutta, Dec. 7: The CPM emerged victorious in the Assembly byelections in North Dinajpur’s Islampur today, prompting chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to say that people had supported the government’s initiative towards industrialisation.

“The Islampur results show that the people have supported our drive for industrialisation,” Bhattacharjee said at Writers’ Buildings.

Mamata, however, tried to make Singur an issue in her campaign in Islampur. When police fought a pitched battle with activists in Singur last Saturday, Mamata was campaigning in Islampur.

However, the result also proved once again that the chances of her success against the Leftists lie only in an alliance with the Congress.

The CPM candidate Sayeda Farhat Afroz, the first woman to represent Islampur in the Assembly, bagged 47,927 votes and defeated her nearest Trinamul Congress rival Abdul Karim Chowdhury by a margin of 7,511 votes. Congress candidate Hamidul Rahman got 22,037 votes.

Chowdhury — a veteran from Islampur who won five times in the last seven Assembly polls — was defeated by the CPM’s Farooq Azam in a triangular contest in the Assembly polls held in May this year. The seat fell vacant after Azam died.

According to observers, had the Congress not put up its candidate, Chowdhury would have had a fair chance of winning. A Congress-Trinamul alliance in Islampur could have seen a repeat of the Bongaon Assembly bypoll in September where the Congress did not contest, thereby allowing a consolidation of anti-Left votes. Saugata Roy had emerged victorious.

“It has been proved again that it is impossible for the Trinamul to win an Assembly seat without Congress support,” said Rahman.

In Calcutta, Mamata Banerjee, too, realised a straight fight would have seen Trinamul victorious. “A straight fight with the CPM would have led to our victory by at least 15,000 votes. But at times, adjustments do not happen and one will have to accept that,’’ Mamata said.

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