The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM readies sabotage shield

Calcutta, June 18: For the CPM, the Trinamul-BJP combine is not the only adversary in Salt Lake.

The Dilip Gupta camp has emerged as the tougher and trickier front to tackle.

After a high-level meeting at Jyoti Basu’s Indira Bhavan residence on May 5, the ruling party’s state secretary, Anil Biswas, announced that Gupta, the chairman of the municipality for 10 years, would not contest the polls this time.

The decision left the leader unhappy and his supporters sulking.

“Throughout the election campaign, we have found a section of our partymen reluctant to cooperate and this is easily traced to Dilip Gupta’s removal,” said a senior Salt Lake leader. “But we have to live with this and win despite this obstacle.”

Amitabha Basu, the party’s district secretary, said: “It was our compulsion to bring Gupta to the party’s lawyers’ organisation as we needed to strengthen it further.”

Aiming for at least 15 out of the 23 municipal seats, the CPM is fortifying its election machinery to neutralise any possibility of sabotage from within.

According to party insiders, around 10 members of the North 24-Parganas district committee have been asked to ensure smooth elections tomorrow. “This time, we are going into the elections in a more organised manner,” a senior CPM leader said.

Leaders close to Gupta waxed eloquent on his qualities. “He has general acceptance among the people of Salt Lake. Also, he used to work impartially as the chairman and even Opposition councillors were not dissatisfied,” one of them said.

But some leaders admit that the equations in the party’s North 24-Parganas unit changed after Gupta became chairman.

Gupta, however, betrayed no bitterness. “I am a disciplined soldier of the party and will do whatever I am asked to do. Right now, I am concentrating on getting Biswajiban Majumdar (his replacement) elected from my former ward.”

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