The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minority bridge between foes

Polba (Hooghly), May 2: The reality of grassroots politics has led the Trinamul Congress here to forge an alliance with a “sworn enemy” and shun an ally.

The BJP has been replaced by the Congress in Trinamul’s rural poll ploy, apparently to woo the minority community. Out of 12 anchals in the region, Trinamul has a seat-sharing agreement with the Congress in five, all dominated by the minority population.

Where Trinamul has not entered into a pact with the Congress, a panchayat uppradhan and a gram panchayat member have joined the Congress. They were “not sure” of winning the poll on Trinamul tickets in view of the party’s ties with the BJP.

Babnan gram panchayat uppradhan Haji Zaffar Sarkar had won the election last time as a Trinamul candidate. “I had to join the Congress, otherwise I would not be in a position to win the poll this time. My party workers, too, did not want to see me contesting the election as a Trinamul nominee. I had no option,” said Sarkar.

Trinamul and the Congress are contesting 8 seats each in the 16-member Babnan gram panchayat. Out of three panchayat samiti seats, Trinamul is contesting one and has conceded the other two to the Congress.

Mamata Banerjee’ party has a seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP in three anchals. BJP nominees will take on the CPM and the Congress in Harit, Polba and Rajhat.

Sources here, however, said Mamata’s salvo at the Congress at her first election rally here on April 28 threw a spanner on the “unofficial” electoral understanding between the two parties. Mamata had challenged the CPM to face the Trinamul-BJP alliance in the panchayat poll even as she referred to the Congress as the “CPM’s B-team”.

Hooghly secretary of the Congress Mainul Haque said: “We entered into an alliance with Trinamul as they insisted on it, we were approached by their district leaders. The alliance was a political necessity. The Trinamul-BJP combine does not stand a chance in the areas dominated by the minority community.”

MP from Serampore and Trinamul district president Akbar Ali Khondakar, however, washed his hands of the matter, saying there was a party whip against an alliance with the Congress. “But, we cannot do any thing if our party workers at the grassroots enter into an unofficial understanding with other parties to defeat the CPM.”

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