The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fissures in Front over seat share

Calcutta, March 19: With barely two months to go for the panchayat polls, the CPM is alarmed at the growing rift among Left Front partners in the districts over seat sharing.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose today said district-level Front committees have been asked to initiate dialogue and send reports to the CPM headquarters by March 28 so that the matter could be taken up by the Front at the state level on March 31. “We are determined to put up common Front candidates by minimising differences among ourselves. Our main aim is to prevent division in the Front votes,” he said.

Front sources said the CPM’s “big brotherly attitude” stood in the way of a consensus with the Forward Bloc and the RSP in some districts. However, the CPI has struck a deal on seats with the CPM in some of the districts.

The RSP and the CPM are at loggerheads in Jalpaiguri, where the former recently boycotted chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. “We are not going to sacrifice seats to the CPM to make it happy. We are hurt at the way many tea garden workers were evicted to make way for the township (at Chandmari),” senior RSP leader Kshiti Goswami said. There are also hitches in South 24-Parganas, where party workers are being regularly attacked by CPM activists.

The Forward Bloc is yet to sort out differences with the CPM over many seats in Cooch Behar and North 24-Parganas following a lack of initiative on the part of district-level leaders.

Against this backdrop, the Trinamul Congress-BJP combine is set to pose a challenge to the Front candidates. Mamata Banerjee, who has returned from Delhi after cementing her alliance with the BJP, said they would oppose both the CPM and the Congress.

Bose indicated that a notification might be issued on April 1 for the polls to be held between May 15 and 25. He said the Front might formally release its election manifesto the next day.

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