The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM braces for bloody panchayat poll run-up

Calcutta, Oct. 28 : With pockets of stiff resistance sprouting in Bengal’s rural mosaic, the ruling CPM appears to be preparing for the first time in 25 years for a bruising showdown in the panchayat elections coming up in May.

The sixth panchayat polls, covering nearly 75,000 seats in the three-tier rural administration, would be a turbocharged event set against the current backdrop of violence in the villages, state CPM secretary Anil Biswas indicated today.

Biswas and others in the CPM leadership reckoned that the polls would be a far tougher battle than it appeared to be as a result of the emergence of “competitors” like the People’s War Group, the Maoist Co-ordination Centre, the Jharkhandis and the Kamtapur People’s Party.

Sunday night’s blast in a Birbhum village off Rampurhat, in which at least 14 people were killed, and the continuing violence at Jamboni in West Midnapore in which four persons, including a CPM functionary, were murdered are pointers to the possible nature of the May elections, they said.

“We do not believe in violence and we will not be found wanting in maintaining law and order,” Biswas said. “But the same cannot be said about these violent anti-Left forces which do not baulk at mounting attacks on our leaders and supporters. No one will be surprised if such attacks are stepped up before the elections.”

According to the CPM’s standpoint, maintaining law and order is not its sole responsibility and as far as the ruling communists are concerned, “others (the Opposition) should realise that they are equally responsible for keeping violence out of the elections”.

“It is evident from the Rampurhat blast that the Congress had engaged people to manufacture bombs that would have been used to attack our men,” Biswas alleged.

The CPM would move into top gear and unveil the campaign for the May elections at a rally on the Brigade Parade Grounds on January 12. The rally would be followed up by another organised in the same venue by the Left Front early March.

The state CPM leadership will be present on January 12 in full strength.

For the organisers, the Brigade event would also serve as an occasion to mark the return of the CPM led-Front to Writers for a record sixth time last year.

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