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Seat talks stuck in CPM-RSP tussle

Balurghat, March 21: The Left Front couldn’t finalise sharing of seats for the coming panchayat polls in South Dinajpur because of differences between the RSP and the CPM despite a five-hour marathon meeting here on Tuesday night.

Sources said an agreement could be reached on 80 per cent of the wards, but discussions were stuck on the rest of the seats.

An RSP district leader said his party sought more seats to contest, but the CPM was unwilling to concede to the demand.

“The RSP is the major power in the district. In the 2006 Assembly elections, we had won from three of the five Assembly constituencies, while two seats were bagged by the CPM. Still, the CPM is not ready for a compromise by allotting us more seats in the coming panchayat elections. We have to be accorded the importance we deserve if the Left Front is to win the majority of seats in the panchayat polls,” said the RSP leader.

The RSP and the CPM couldn’t reach a consensus on the seats in the 2008 rural polls in the district and both the parties contested against each other. South Dinajpur has 65 gram panchayats and eight panchayat samitis. The number of seats at the zilla parishad will be 18.

Hiren Saha, a district secretariat member of the CPM, scotched speculations of major differences in the Left over seat-sharing.

“We have already resolved the issue at the meeting. Each constituent of the Front will be given the same seats contested by them in the 2008 elections. A deal is yet to be reached on some seats at the gram panchayats and panchayat samitis in the Gangarampur, Harirampur and Kushmandi blocks. Once those issues are resolved, the seat sharing will be completed,” said Saha.

In public, RSP leader Bimal Sarkar also said an understanding was to be reached on certain seats for the last two rungs of the panchayat system.

“There is no rift in the Left Front. We had held discussions regarding the sharing of seats. This time, we will put a united fight. There are some problems in striking a deal on some seats at the lower rungs of the panchayat system,” said Sarkar.

The sources said the state Left Front leadership had set a deadline of March 26 for the district committee to resolve all differences. The next meeting of the district LF committee will be held on March 23.