Burdwan, April 1: Early this year, the CPM said it would select candidates for the May panchayat elections in tune with a new script that many were not willing to take seriously. The reason was not far to seek: the party talked about marginalising teachers, an important panchayat pressure group.
Today, Burdwan, a CPM bailiwick, sprung a surprise by releasing a list of Left Front candidates which follows the new script to the last letter.
By evening, the Opposition acknowledged that it did not expect the CPM to leave out the senior teacher-functionaries of panchayats in important districts like Burdwan.
CPM Burdwan district secretary Amal Halder announced that going by the new guideline, two important functionaries — zilla parishad sabhadhipati Ramkrishna Banerjee, a retired teacher, and Kabilal Maddi, a serving one — have been dropped. New faces have been fielded in their places.
“We have reduced the number of teachers on this year’s list at least four times because we do not want to involve teacher-candidates in panchayat administration. Such involvement is in conflict with their fundamental commitment to their educational institutions,” Haldar said. “Besides, we knew we would have to stick to the line formulated by the leadership.”
For the CPM, as well as the Front in general, the list is important for two other reasons. First, the candidates were chosen unanimously and, second, the list was prepared ahead of other districts, where sharp differences and lobbying by various factions are holding up the process of candidate selection for the May 11 panchayat elections.
Senior district CPM functionaries today claimed that they had published the list on time when the Front leadership is struggling to get the district leaderships to prepare the lists on the basis of a consensus among Front partners. The state Front will meet tomorrow to finalise the lists of candidates, sources said.
Dropping the zilla parishad sabhadhipati has stunned many in the political circles in Burdwan. Banerjee enjoys tremendous clout in the district CPM and is known for his proximity to Nirupam Sen.