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Twice stung Left gets poll jitters

Calcutta, July 3: Prakash Karat may not want Mulayam Singh Yadav to prop up the Manmohan Singh government if the Left withdraws support over the nuclear deal but many of his Bengal comrades would be relieved to see the UPA government survive.

The reason: they don’t want early polls after the setbacks in the panchayat and municipal elections.

“We can’t afford early Lok Sabha polls after the beating we took in the panchayat and municipal elections. The party’s state leadership, too, will like to have some time to repair the damage,’’ said a CPM state committee member.

The party cannot go for polls over the nuclear deal since it “hardly concerns common people”. “Prakash Karat’s firm position on this has landed us in a queer situation. If Mulayam (Singh Yadav) saves the government as well as the deal, it will embarrass us. But it will also give us some time to prepare for the polls on popular planks, like the price rise,’’ he added.

The Left Front lost four municipalities, while the Trinamul and Congress bagged four each, in the results of the elections to 13 civic bodies declared yesterday. In May, the front had lost four zilla parishads to the Opposition as well as a sizeable number of panchayat samitis and around half of gram panchayats.

The CPM state secretariat will hold a preliminary review of the setbacks tomorrow. District leaders have been asked to submit their reports soon.

Party general secretary Karat and his CPI counterpart A.B. Bardhan will be in the city on Saturday on the occasion of Hiren Mukherjee’s birth anniversary.

Leaders from the districts where the CPM fared poorly in the rural and civic polls fear that the setbacks could hurt the Left’s chances in around 20 parliamentary seats. However, the leadership is yet to come out with its assessment.

“The poll results indicate some erosion in our support and a warning from voters. But it is too early to see any tangible voting patterns except the emergence of an Opposition grand alliance which was missing in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly polls,’’ said state committee member Rabin Deb.

The timing and the issues on which the general elections will be contested are more important, Deb said. He added that the party also had “to take care of the Congress-Trinamul-BJP equations if the UPA government survived.

“After all, the BJP had around 5 per cent vote in Bengal. This makes a lot of differences in the outcome,’’ Deb said.

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