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Campaign worry for CPM in Nandigram

Tamluk, March 24: CPM leaders in Nandigram and Khejuri have alleged that they cannot begin campaigning for their candidates as all party offices in the area have been closed down since the 2011 Assembly polls which Trinamul swept.

Leaders of the Left party also alleged that Trinamul workers had been issuing threats to their cadres if they made any attempt towards campaigning. The East Midnapore CPM has decided to write to the Election Commission in the first week of April seeking security for their cadres in Nandigram and Khejuri.

Trinamul has denied the charges against its workers.

While Nandigram falls under the Tamluk constituency, where the Left has fielded Sheikh Ibrahim Ali, Khejuri comes under Contai, where Tapas Sinha is the party’s candidate. They will be contesting against Trinamul’s Sisir Adhikari and Subhendu Adhikari in Contai and Tamluk, respectively.

“We have not been able to write any poll graffiti or organise workers’ meetings. Let the candidates themselves come here and start the campaign. Only then we can take the risk of visiting every household,” said a Nandigram CPM leader.

Tamluk CPM candidate Ibrahim Ali lives in Panskura, while Contai nominee Sinha has a house in Narayangarh in West Midnapore.

Trinamul gained over the CPM in East Midnapore after wresting the zilla parishad from the Left in 2008. In the Lok Sabha polls a year later, the Left suffered yet another blow when CPM candidates Lakshan Seth and Prasanta Pradhan lost from Tamluk and Contai to Subhendu Adhikari and his father Sisir Adhikari.

According to sources, Trinamul workers and supporters, buoyed by the success in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, took control in Nandigram and Khejuri. During that phase, a number of CPM offices were ransacked and set ablaze by suspected Trinamul activists.

Similar attacks continued after the 2011 Assembly polls, in which the Left lost all 16 seats.

The acting district secretary of the CPM, Prasanta Pradhan, today said thousands of their workers who had fled homes fearing attacks were yet to return.

“Those who dared to stay back are being threatened with dire consequences. How can we begin a door-to-door campaign?” Pradhan asked.

The CPM leader said the party would have to resort to text messages and emails to reach out to voters, a strategy the Left party had adopted in the run-up to the panchayat polls last year.

“For the panchayat polls, we had campaigned through emails and text messages. This year, too, we don’t see any alternative. We may appeal on Facebook,” Pradhan said.

Tamluk candidate Ibrahim Ali said there was “an atmosphere of fear in Nandigram”.

“We will appeal to the Election Commission to provide me security in the first week of April. Only then I can go to Nandigram. In case of any attack on me or my workers, the administration will be responsible,” Ali said.

The situation is no different in Khejuri. CPM district secretariat member Himanshu Das said he was staying away from home following alleged Trinamul threats.

“More than 500 party workers like me could not return to their homes after the Assembly polls in 2011 in Khejuri. We need security to start our campaign in Khejuri,” said Das.

Contai candidate Sinha said his friends and party loyalists had started a campaign for him on Facebook and through text messages.

“But I am planning to visit Khejuri after I complete campaigning in six other Assembly segments under the Contai Lok Sabha seat,” said Sinha.

Asked about the allegations, Trinamul’s Tamluk candidate Subhendu Adhikari said: “The allegations made by the CPM are baseless. There is no problem in Nandigram or Khejuri. The CPM wants to malign us before the polls.”

Repeated calls to Contai candidate Sisir Adhikari went unanswered.

District superintendent of police S. K. Jain said he had not received any such complaint in Nandigram and Khejuri.