The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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On demand: Basu glue effect

Calcutta, June 14: Jyoti Basu and not Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is the top-draw campaigner for the CPM in Salt Lake.

Basu, the party believes, is a better bet than the chief minister in bridging differences between various factions before Sunday's elections to Bidhannagar municipality.

In two days, the 91-year-old Basu has addressed two election meetings in the township. Bhattacharjee, the party confirmed, will not address any.

Sources said the 'Basu magic' had worked a 'miracle' for the CPM in last year's Lok Sabha polls. Amitava Nandi could wrest Dum Dum ' under it falls Salt Lake ' from the BJP's Tapan Sikdar because of his ability to make various party factions work together. Nandi had bridged a difference of over a lakh votes to beat Sikdar, the winner on two previous occasions.

Today, he said Bhattacharjee would not address a rally in Salt Lake because of his hectic election programme in Calcutta. 'He (Bhattacharjee) is very busy with the administration and also campaigning for the corporation elections. We told the leadership we will be able to retain Bidhannagar and also increase our margin under Basu, our most experienced leader,' Nandi said.

A senior North 24-Parganas CPM leader said: 'Basu is acceptable to both factions in the district party unit. He is a father figure and no one has the courage to ignore him. This time, too, he is leading us and we are sure to increase our margin.'

In the 23-member municipal board, the CPM has 12 councillors and the Trinamul Congress 11.

'I don't want to see our opposition getting more than two seats,' Basu reportedly told party leaders recently.

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas and other senior leaders also depended on Basu in resolving differences during the selection of candidates.

The Dum Dum zonal committee and the two local committees of Salt Lake had failed to finalise the list of party nominees till Basu stepped in. A number of meetings were held at Basu's residence, Indira Bhavan, to sort out the dispute.

Nandi and transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, known to be leaders of the two warring groups, were among those who attended the meetings.

Yesterday, Basu led Chakraborty, Nandi and finance minister Asim Dasgupta in addressing the non-Bengali community in Salt Lake. 'Our party does not differentiate between Bengalis and non-Bengalis,' Basu told members of the community at the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre. The non-Bengalis constitute about a third of Salt Lake's voter population.

Kamal Gandhi, a member of the community, pleaded with the party to look into the property problems the late entrants to Salt Lake were facing.

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