The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM holds talks on seat-sharing

Calcutta, April 5: Desperate to stem squabbles in the ruling coalition, the CPM today held bilateral talks with the CPI, the RSP and the Forward Bloc over sharing of seats for the May 11 panchayat elections.

The Left Front will meet again tomorrow to finalise the seat-sharing.

The CPM and the RSP are at loggerheads over sharing of panchayat seats in Murshidabad, South Dinajpur and South 24-Parganas — the three districts where the latter has some pockets of influence.

The CPM crossed swords with the CPI over seat adjustment in some parts of West Midnapore, Hooghly and Kandi in Murshidabad district.

The Forward Bloc has announced that the party had come to an understanding with the CPM on seat-sharing only in Cooch Behar district and that a Left Front sub-committee had been formed to oversee the panchayat elections in that district. The district secretaries of the two parties signed an agreement and said the panchayats would be run on the basis of consensus.

Sources, however, said the CPM’s move to iron out differences over seat-sharing with a number of Front partners will not work because grassroots leaders are not ready to accept its “big brother attitude”.

It is estimated that the Front partners will contest against each other in at least 10,000 seats in the three-tier panchayat polls. During the 1998 panchayat polls, several partners of the ruling coalition had failed to sort out differences over about 14,000 seats.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas today said his party would not give nominations to panchayat officials who were elected in the last three consecutive elections. He also said corrupt panchayat officials would be removed from the rural administration system.

“We have also instructed our party units not to give nominations to teachers unless there is some compulsion. In case teachers are given tickets, they should not be assigned any key post,” Biswas said.

The state Congress also geared up for the panchayat polls with Pradesh Congress Committee president Pranab Mukherjee holding a marathon meeting at the party headquarters with senior party leaders to discuss the possible candidates for the polls.

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