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Discontent sign in city backyard
Trinamul loses seats in zones near Calcutta

Calcutta, July 29: The panchayat poll results point to a geographical shift in Trinamul’s absolute dominance to the former Left bastion of central Bengal from south Bengal districts near Calcutta in an indication that urban discontent with the 26-month-old Mamata Banerjee government was slowly rearing its head.

According to results available till late tonight, the Left Front has dealt a blow to Trinamul in certain pockets of the two Parganas, Howrah and Nadia where the ruling party had performed much better in the 2008 panchayat polls.

Trinamul, under the leadership of Mamata, has always enjoyed support in these south Bengal districts.

“In South 24-Parganas’ Baruipur, Diamond Harbour, Budge Budge and Thakurpukur-Mahestala, which are close to Calcutta, the trends in the gram panchayats clearly show that our party may be paying the price of urban discontent. The discontent in Calcutta seems to have rubbed onto these places,” a minister said.

Factors such as poor industrial growth, lack of employment opportunities, rise in cases of crimes against women and urban transportation suffering because of the government’s refusal to hike bus fares have created some amount of dissatisfaction in urban areas.

The minister said that although these issues might not have played any role in the rural polls in far-away districts, they might have influenced voters in districts near Calcutta.

According to results available till tonight, the Left Front had won six gram panchayats in Diamond Harbour-II block and four in Diamond Harbour-I block. Diamond Harbour is 60km from Calcutta.

The Left had won only three gram panchayats in block II and drawn a blank in block I in 2008.

“Trinamul losing a few seats this time is significant because the party had won handsomely from Diamond Harbour in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the 2011 Assembly polls. Trinamul’s Somen Mitra had won the Lok Sabha seat comfortably. The party’s good showing continued in the Assembly polls,” a leader said.

The Left Front has also increased its tally to six gram panchayats from three in Budge Budge, 25km from the city. In the Thakurpukur-Mahestala block, around 20km from Calcutta, the Left has bagged three of the four gram panchayats.

In some pockets of North 24-Parganas, Trinamul has failed to replicate its past performance. The ruling party has suffered a jolt in Deganga — close to Barasat — with Trinamul losing the panchayat samiti and most of the gram panchayats. Of the 13 gram panchayats in Deganga block, 45km from Calcutta, Trinamul won only three while the CPM bagged seven.

“Considering the 2008 results, it is a major setback,” said a Trinamul leader in Deganga. “We were in power in 12 gram panchayats here while the CPM controlled only one,” a party leader said.

In Howrah too, urban discontent seems to have played a part in the panchayat polls. In Domjur, the CPM has won four gram panchayats and in Sankrail, five. Both areas are close to Calcutta.

“In the 2011 Assembly polls, we had bagged 80 per cent of the votes in these areas. We have to check why we lost so many gram panchayats,” a Howrah Trinamul leader said.

SINGUR

Trinamul has kept control of the panchayats in Singur but the results reveal that the party’s grip over the area has loosened. Of the 16 gram panchayats in Singur, Trinamul has won 12, while the CPM has bagged one. The remaining three have thrown up a hung verdict. In 2008, Trinamul had won 15 gram panchayats in Singur, where the party’ sustained anti-land acquisition movement had driven the Tata Nano project away. Trinamul sources said factional feud and discontent among unwilling farmers led to Trinamul’s seat share coming down.