West Midnapore, April 26: The absence of Opposition candidates has not meant an absence of opposition for the CPM in the panchayat polls.
Dissidents have bared their fangs at the parent party in several seats at Pingla, Keshpur, Chadrakona and Garbeta as Independents.
Officials said the rebels are contesting 17 gram panchyat seats at Pingla, 25 at Keshpur, 10 at Chandrakona-II and 36 at Garbeta.
But the district CPM will not admit that the Independent candidates are dissidents. “They are genuine Independents and have no links with the party. It is an Opposition campaign to malign our organisation,” said Sukur Ali, secretary of the Garbeta unit.
Asked how they dared to file their nominations against the official nominees in a place considered to be Left stronghold, Ali averted a direct answer. “Some Independents might have some local influence and this helps them contest the polls,” he said.
The assassination of Phulberia CPM local committee member Golap Mallick on Wednesday could have been a fallout of this trend, said West Midnapore police officials. Mallick’s murder in an area where the Opposition has not been able to put up candidates to take on the CPM could not be their handiwork, they said.
Besides, the fact that no witness has come forward to help the police in the probe — Mallick was murdered in front of people in the evening — clearly shows that people are afraid to identify the assassins, they added.
CPM leaders almost endorsed the theory when they admitted that Mallick was working for a section of CPM dissidents. So he was carrying a firearm, they added, explaining how far the intra-party fighting has gone.
A campaign by the Independent nominees that they would back the CPM if elected has confused the electorate. “In fact, our electorate is confused due to a vigorous campaign by the Independents. So, it would have been easier for us to win if the Opposition Trinamul Congress were in the fray,” said a key CPM functionary from Keshpur.