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CPM terms civic pullout decision incorrect

CPM district secretary Gautam Deb

Calcutta, Nov. 3: The CPM has termed “incorrect” its move to withdraw from the Burdwan and Chakdah municipal elections on September 21 citing Trinamul terror, sources said.

The leadership’s observation at a state committee meeting, particularly by CPM state secretary Biman Bose, was supported by several district units like North 24-Parganas, West Midnapore and Darjeeling, some of whose civic bodies will go the polls on November 22.

“Today’s state committee meeting was the first since the September 21 municipal elections. So, the move to withdraw was bound to have come up for discussion. Our party leadership said leaving the electoral race on the day of polls was not only an unhealthy step for the organisation, it was also incorrect,” a CPM leader said.

The leader added that such moves affected the “morale of our party rank and file”.

Later, CPM central committee leader Mohammad Salim said: “Trinamul anarchy continues unabated. Despite that, we will have to face the elections with the organisational strength we have.”

Twelve municipalities had gone to the polls in September. The CPM withdrew from the fray in Burdwan and Chakdah on election day alleging widespread Trinamul terror had forced its candidates to back out. The Left party scored a nil in both Burdwan (35 seats) and Chakdah (21 seats).

Since then, CPM state secretariat member and North 24-Parganas district secretary Gautam Deb had been arguing at party meetings that both the district units should have held their ground.

He had cited the CPM’s “better-than-expected” performance in the Panihati municipal elections to drive home his point.

“We may have lost Panihati. But we never let the morale of our cadres down there. Trinamul felt our resistance there and will be cautious in the future,” Deb had told a recent district committee meeting.

The Burdwan unit’s counterpoint at the meeting today was that if the CPM had not surrendered, its cadres would have been killed by Trinamul workers on the day of the polls.

“You all may be arguing against the withdrawal. But if you talk to people in Burdwan, you will realise that our step was right. The withdrawal has had a positive impact on the minds of a huge section of the electorate,” district secretary Amal Haldar was quoted as saying.

The CPM leadership, however, stressed that backing out hit the party’s prospects elsewhere — in Burdwan’s Guskara municipality, South Dinajpur’s Balurghat civic body and, to a certain extent, in Nadia’s Chakdah.

“We couldn’t win Guskara because of the defeatist mentality of our Burdwan leaders. A withdrawal from the race in Burdwan had its effect on neighbouring Guskara as cadres there also retreated fearing attacks. That led to a Trinamul victory there,” a party state committee member said.

“Similarly, we could have tied or won Balurghat municipality where we went down by only two seats. There too, as television pictures of our Burdwan and Chakdah withdrawal were flashed, many cadres lost hope and came out of poll booths. In Chakdah, our men didn’t even try to resist Trinamul. Had we stayed on, we could have bagged some seats,” the leader added.

At today’s meeting, the district units of West Midnapore, Murshidabad, Nadia and Howrah submitted preliminary reports on the political situation and the “difficult'” road ahead leading to the November 22 civic polls.

“Winning these municipalities seems difficult now. That’s what the district reports suggest,” a CPM source said.