The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ex-leader on graft plank to fight CPM

Jhargram (West Midnapore), Nov. 18: A former CPM nominee is contesting the CPI in the elections to the Jhargram municipality on November 30.

Local CPM leader and lawyer Dipankar Dhar resigned from the party last month to plunge into the fray from ward no. 14 against the vice-chairperson of the municipality, CPI’s Lina Singh.

“My fight is against corruption and vested interests. My former party (the CPM) speaks of cleansing itself of corruption but gives nominations to people who are tainted and hobnob with contractors,” said Dhar, now an Independent.

Sensing a split in the Left ranks, the Opposition parties were prompt in withdrawing their candidates in the ward to ensure a straight fight between Dhar and Singh. Trinamul and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha pulled out Prasanta Roy and Abhijit Roy from the fray.

In the 17 wards of the civic body, the CPM has fielded its nominees in 14 and has left three to the CPI.

Opposition leaders are now telling voters in the ward with a population of 1,580 to back Dhar. “This is an opportunity to humiliate the ruling front. We know the people have a lot of grievances against the Left-ruled civic board,” said a Trinamul leader.

Dhar said he would fare well if there is a “free and fair” election and alleged that he and his family members were receiving threat calls since he submitted nomination papers.

“Even my clients are under strong vigilance. My graffiti (for campaign) are being spoiled and my festoons torn to shreds. A few days ago, my aged mother was threatened over phone. I had to lodge an FIR with the Jhargram police station,” said Dhar.

He also alleged that relatives of two CPM councillors were given jobs at the municipality and charged his opponent with influencing the board in awarding contracts to her husband.

Singh denied the allegations. “These are canards that are being spread by the Opposition to malign him (her husband),” she said.

An alerted CPM leadership has launched a strident campaign. “He (Dhar) was not in touch with the party for the past two years. We would have expelled him this year,” said Shibnath Guha, the secretary of the CPM’s Jhargram local committee.

Referring to the accusation that the relatives of CPM councillors had got jobs, municipality chairman Pradeep Sarkar said one of them was recommended by the employment exchange and the other was a casual employee for a long time. “There were no irregularities.”

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