July 7: Defying a whip and queering the CPM’s pitch, the Forward Bloc has formed panchayat samity boards in at least two places with the support of Opposition parties.
In Howrah’s Uluberia-I panchayat samity, the Bloc joined hands with the Trinamul Congress and the Congress to prevent the CPM from bagging the post of sabhapati. The Bloc, which has seven seats to the CPM’s 11, got the post with the help of Trinamul’s four and the Congress’ lone seat.
At Arsha in Purulia, the Bloc, with six seats, formed the board with Trinamul (one) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (three seats) to bag the sabhapati’s post.
The Bloc’s move has angered the CPM leadership. The CPM perceives the move, in violation of the Left Front’s whip on forming rural boards, as a betrayal. “We will take up the matter with the state Forward Bloc leadership,” state CPM secretary Anil Biswas said in Calcutta.
While preparing for the rural polls held in May, the front had decided not to form boards at any level of the three-tier panchayat system with support from Opposition parties like Trinamul, the Congress and the BJP.
Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh said he had heard about the development. However, he added: “I have not been able to contact our leaders in the two districts. But I can assure you that our party will not violate the front’s whip regarding formation of panchayat boards. I will inquire into the matter and strong disciplinary action will be taken against anyone found to have gone against the front’s decision.”
In Arsha, senior Bloc leaders, including MP and party central committee member Birsingh Mahato, have expelled district committee member Mihir Majhi.
They have also recommended the expulsion of state committee member Dhrubeswar Chattopadhyay on charges of being the “brain” behind the “rebellion”.
“We have taken these immediate steps. Now we will send a detailed report to the party’s leadership,” Mahato said.
Sources in the Bloc, however, said the CPM’s “stepmotherly attitude” towards the smaller partners of the front had led to such “revolts” at the grassroots level.
Biswas countered that his party had already expelled five local committee members in Bengal who had gone against the front’s decision on forming panchayat boards.
“We have expelled Hanifa Purkait of Kulpi in South 24-Parganas today for seeking help from the Trinamul Congress and the Congress in forming the board there. Hanifa, however, could not get any portfolio despite her crossover to form the board with support from Opposition parties,” he said.
The CPM leader said his party was determined to go by the front’s decision of not forming boards at any level with support from Opposition parties.