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RSP, Bloc go for new look

Calcutta, March 2: Two of the CPM’s allies are fielding fresh faces in five of the six Lok Sabha seats they hold in Bengal, though the Big Brother could not replace most old-timers fearing feuds and sabotage.

On the Left Front list to be released tomorrow, the RSP will have three new candidates (for Alipurduar, Balurghat and Joynagar) and the For- ward Bloc two (in Barasat and Cooch Behar).

“All the changes were made according to the demands of the rank and file in the districts. They felt new faces would infuse new life into the contest,’’ an RSP leader said.

The CPM had also felt the need to negate a possible anti-incumbency factor, but it had more pressing concerns. An insider said the price for dropping someone like Lakshman Seth, whose land acquisition notice had triggered the Nandigram violence and the con- sequent slide in the CPM’s rural base, could be heavier than retaining him.

“According to party norms, Lok Sabha MPs should be dropped after four terms. However, we couldn’t go for too many changes this time in view of the adverse political situation. Many five or seven-term MPs have been retained to ensure continuity,” a CPM state secretariat member said.

The “heavyweights” are expected to fare better than “greenhorns” in what the party admits will be its toughest election in three decades.

“We need seasoned parliamentarians in the Lok Sabha since we apprehend that our numbers will go down this time,” the leader said.

The party has re-nominated 15 of its 26 MPs. Most of the other 10 have been dropped because of delimitation of their constituencies or changes to their reservation status.

The Bloc has re-nominated only its Purulia MP, who had won the bypoll in 2006. The CPI has gone the CPM way, retaining all its three MPs.

Phased poll welcome

The CPM, which took on the poll panel when it announced the five-phase Assembly elections in 2006, today welcomed the three-phase Lok Sabha polls in Bengal.

“It is a big state and some forces want to disrupt the polls. The EC has split the polls to foil their plan,” said party veteran Benoy Konar. The 2004 general election was a single-phase affair in Bengal.

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