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Protest lock on RSP, CPM offices
Clamour for candidate change

Jalpaiguri/Malda, March 14: The Left regimentation took a beating today when RSP and CPM supporters locked up their party offices in Jalpaiguri and Malda districts to protest the selection of candidates.

In the RSP, the dissenting section threatened to resign en mass if the candidate for Mainaguri, who had replaced a four-time MLA, was not changed. The CPM supporters, on the other hand, did not want the re-nomination of the Chanchal candidate who had earlier contested twice from Kharba and lost. Chanchal is a new constituency.

Although at the end of the day leaders of both the parties declared that everything was fine, the agitators said otherwise, specially in Mainaguri where the party office had to be opened with police help after six hours.

Around 10am today, over 100 RSP supporters raided their party office in Madhabdanga in Mainaguri, 21km from Jalpaiguri town. Led by local gram panchayat member Biswajit Roy, they locked it up to protest the replacement of the four-time MLA Bachchamohan Roy by Ananta Deb Adhikari, the zonal committee secretary of Mainaguri. His name was announced by Left Front chairman Biman Bose yesterday.

At the same time in Malda’s Chanchal, CPM workers and supporters ransacked the party office and locked up the premises. They were protesting the re-nomination of Anjumanara Begum as the CPM candidate. They demanded that Anjumanara, who lost the past two elections by a margin of over 10,000 votes, be replaced.

The local committee secretary of Chanchal North, Abdul Rauf, said party members were not satisfied with Anjumanara’s efforts. “They are not willing to accept her any longer. In the 2006 Assembly polls, she lost to the Congress’s Mahabubul Haque by over 10,000 votes. In the by-elections that followed in 2008 after his death, she lost to his son, Asif Mehboob, again by the same margin,” Rauf said.

He said the outrage among the party members was justified as the local committee had faxed a message to Alimuddin Street on March 10, making it clear that they wanted a change in the candidature. “At every level of the constituency, be it the branch, local or zonal, the decision was unanimous. We had even suggested names that were acceptable to all but the party bosses did not pay any heed,” Rauf said.

For the RSP, today’s was not for the first incident of protest. The RSP’s image had already taken a beating on March 7, when the party’s youth front activists ransacked the office at Alipurduar, also in Jalpaiguri district, to protest the replacement of four-time MLA Nirmal Das by public works minister Kshiti Goswami.

Local RSP leaders said Mainaguri candidate Adhikari was not at all involved in party activities. “We were not consulted when the party made the decision to select a candidate. If the candidate is not changed, we will resign en mass from the party,” Biswajit Roy said.

Outgoing MLA Roy said he was not aware who had locked up the party office. “We will try and reason with those who are in dissent. We will also discuss whether to take any action against the protesters,” Roy said.

In Malda, CPM district secretary Jiban Moitra said: “The problem has been resolved. Our party has a specific manner in which candidates are selected. We are in touch with the disgruntled section in Chanchal and the situation is being explained to them.”

While the Chanchal CPM party office was reopened in the afternoon, in Mainaguri, RSP zonal committee members took the help of the police to open the office.

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