The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front grapples with rebel nominees

Calcutta, April 23: Concerned over the failure to reach a consensus on seat adjustments for the May 11 panchayat elections, Left Front partners, including the CPM, are in a dilemma over how to explain the contests between official and rebel Left candidates to voters in remote villages.

The issue was debated at today’s Left Front meeting convened at the CPM headquarters to explore fresh moves to iron out differences among the coalition partners. A majority of partners pointed out that it was embarrassing for them to address a public meeting in a place where they are fighting each other.

“What impression will the electorate get if state-level Front leaders from Calcutta speak about the unprecedented unity among them in a remote village where such things do not exist at all in the run-up to the panchayat polls'” asked senior RSP leader and former PWD minister Kshiti Goswami.

He admitted during the day that the party had entered into a direct contest with the CPM in a sizeable number of seats in South 24-Parganas, South Dinajpur, Murshidabad and Jalpaiguri districts. “Despite our best efforts, the seat-sharing deal with the CPM in all the four districts flopped,” he added.

Echoing Goswami, Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh said it was “embarrassing” for the party functionaries to address public rallies in places where minor partners are at loggerheads with the CPM over sharing of seats. “It is unfortunate that Front partners, who have set an example to the entire world by returning to power for the sixth consecutive time, are fighting one another in the rural belt,” he added.

Alarmed at such complaints from two key Front partners, the CPM leadership today directed them to visit those places where they have problems over seat-sharing. Left Front chairman and CPM leader Biman Bose is learnt to have asked the participants of the meeting to explain to the electorate that the Left Front is intact even though it failed to reach a consensus over some seats.

He also asked them to campaign more vigorously in the disputed areas to prevent a division of votes. “Cross-voting by supporters of Front partners will help the Opposition Trinamul Congress defeat Left Front nominees,” he told the meeting.

Later, he told reporters that the Front would issue common leaflets and convene workers’ joint meetings in the villages to dispel doubts about the unity in the Front among the electorate. Besides regular meetings at the district-level, Left Front committees would be convened more regularly so that a united fight can be put up against the Opposition at the last moment.

It is learnt that Front partners could not reach a consensus in nearly 7,500 seats, of which the RSP alone has differences with the CPM in over 4,500 gram panchayat seats. The Bloc ranks second, having problems with the CPM in nearly 1,700 seats.

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