Rishra (Hooghly), June 29: A cluster of small villages here showed today what an alliance of Opposition parties could do to the CPM-led Left Front, ruling Bengal for 26 years.
Sonia Gandhi’s Congress joined hands with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress and the state BJP to wrest control of the Rishra gram panchayat from the CPM after 26 years.
In the 28-member board, the Congress-Trinamul-BJP combine won 16 seats. The CPM was left behind with 12.
Though still the single largest party, the CPM lost the board to a grand alliance (mahajot) Opposition parties.
The Congress bagged eight seats, the Trinamul six and the BJP two. Manira Begum of the Congress was elected the gram panchayat pradhan and Trinamul’s Sekhar Mondal her deputy.
“It is the first time that we lost control of the board since the Left Front came to power in 1977. I sill wonder how the Congress could tie-up with Trinamul and the BJP, which are part of the NDA at the Centre,” said Dilip Sarkar, the chairman of the CPM-led municipality here.
Sarkar, who oversees his party’s organisation in the panchayat area, said “the state Congress’ unprincipled alliance with communal forces” prevented the CPM from forming the board.
“We formed the board last time with 13 party members and some Independents. The Congress this time scuttled our prospects by aligning with Trinamul and the BJP,” he added.
Trinamul president of Hooghly and MP from Serampore Akbar Ali Khondakar reacted angrily to the CPM leader’s branding the grand alliance as unprincipled. “How can the CPM talk about principles when the party formed the municipal board in Rishra with support from two Congress commissioners. We don’t like to learn about value-based politics from the CPM, which has virtually ruined Bengal over the years,” he said.
The Congress’ Sabir Ali, said they were left with no option but to tie up with Trinamul and the BJP. “We realised that only a mahajot (grand alliance) could prevent the CPM from coming to power again. We had to form the alliance only to throw the CPM from power. They are our main adversary,” said Ali.
BJP leader Subir Mukherjee echoed Ali when he said the party had left the decision to grassroots workers. They had to “ensure the CPM’s defeat”, he said.