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Poll-hit CPM banks on ladies

Durgapur, July 25: The CPM, battered and bruised by successive poll debacles, is holding onto a bank election in former bastion Durgapur as the last straw.

The CPM is trying to project the Women’s Co-operative Bank governing body elections, where it has won virtually uncontested because the Trinamul Congress could not put up candidates in 36 of the 46 seats for “lack of time”, as “proof” that the Left still enjoys the support of women.

After the setbacks in Burdwan in the Assembly elections last year, unthinkable till then, the Left also lost control of the Durgapur Municipal Corporation for the first time since its formation 15 years ago, after losing the civic polls in June.

The bank governing body elections were announced on July 2 and till July 17, the last day for filing of nominations, Trinamul fielded candidates for only nine seats. The party said it was “too busy” with the civic elections. The bank elections will be held on August 5.

The CPM, however, claimed the rival party’s support base among women was not strong. “It is clear that in Durgapur, Trinamul does not enjoy the support of women. So they failed to put up candidates,” said Amal Halder, the CPM district secretary.

“In the recent Steel People’s Co-operative Bank governing body elections, Trinamul took the help of anti-socials to win. The goons attacked our comrades on the day of the polls,” he added.

Terming the Women’s Co-operative Bank polls a “great success” for the party, Halder said: “We will showcase the victory across the district.”

The Women’s Co-operative Bank has two branches in Durgapur — one at City Centre and the other at Panagarh. It has 4,606 account holders who will vote in the polls. The CPM has been controlling the governing body since its inception in 1997.

The bank offers loans and other financial assistances to women to make them self-sufficient. The bank has assets worth of over Rs 10 crore.

Pankaj Roy Sarkar, a CPM local committee secretary in Durgapur, alleged Trinamul was not allowing the Left to contest in any election since the Assembly polls in May last year.

Trinamul, however, said it was “more important” for the party to win the two polls than the Women’s Co-operative Bank elections.

“The party winning the governing body elections will enjoy some control over the Durgapur Steel Plant, the largest industry in the area. We were so busy with the civic and steel plant bank elections that we did not get time to put up candidates for all seats in the Women’s Co-operative Bank polls. But this does not mean that we don’t enjoy the support of women. Had that been the case, how did we win successive elections in Durgapur since the Assembly polls?” said Apurba Mukherjee, the Burdwan Trinamul president.