The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Allies at each other’s throats

June 15: “Concerned” about plummeting relations between the CPM and the RSP, Left Front chairman Biman Bose today sent a CPM minister to South Dinajpur to sort things out between the allies engaged in a bitter tussle to control the Balurghat municipality.

But in the South Dinajpur district headquarters, the allies again clawed each other.

Housing minister Goutam Deb, sent by Bose to end the squabbles, today blamed the RSP for the crack in the front. Addressing a CPM rally, he said an alliance could not take shape for the civic poll because of the RSP’s intransigence over seats.

Acknowledging that the allies were fighting each other for control of the municipality, Bose said Deb would hold talks with leaders from both parties to make sure the situation did not go out of the front’s hand. He said he wanted to end the bitterness between the constituents of the Left government.

Describing Balurghat as an exception, Bose, a CPM politburo member, said the front partners were fighting next Sunday’s polls jointly in all other municipalities.

Biswanath Chowdhury, a senior RSP minister leading his party’s campaign to retain the Balurghat municipality, said Deb called him on his cellphone on his arrival yesterday. “We talked for a few minutes but there was nothing worth telling you.”

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas, brainstorming at Dalkhola in North Dinajpur, played down the bitter wrangling between the allies. “Such things happen during election campaigns. But the allies should keep in mind that they all belong to the front.”

The CPM and the RSP have pitted candidates against each other in all 23 wards of Balurghat municipality.

Hardly had an RSP rally ended at the town’s State Bank More today when the CPM kicked off a rally at the same spot, using the same loudspeakers. Each side blamed the other for not doing enough for the residents.

RSP leader Bimal Sarkar, a member of the party’s state committee, dared Amit Sarkar, a district CPM leader, to strip Chowdhury of his portfolios.

“If Chowdhury loses his departments (jail and social welfare), it will be the end of the front government,” he thundered.

The relations between the allies have been strained since the panchayat poll, where they fought each other in several districts.

Deb told a rally that the RSP had refused to accept the front’s suggestion that both parties be given the seats they won in the last poll.

“The CPM had turned down the same suggestion made by the front before the panchayat poll. How can they expect us to accept it now'” asked Chowdhury.

With the CPM threatening to “demote” Chowdhury to the excise ministry, the RSP has trained its gun on Narayan Biswas, the small-scale industries minister and CPM leader from Gangarampur.

“Biswas has not done anything for South Dinajpur. He is an obstacle to the district’s development,” Sarkar said, to the applause of his party supporters.

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