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Civic poll test for Left

Calcutta, June 27: Sixteen municipalities across Bengal will hold elections on Sunday that will test the Left Front’s control on 10 civic bodies.

The only relief for the front is that the Trinamul Congress and the Congress, which reaped a rich harvest in the Lok Sabha elections after their tie-up, has no state-wide understanding at the municipal level.

Counting will be done on July 1 and the results will be announced the same day.

Front leaders admitted that retaining the 10 civic areas would be a “difficult task” after the reverses in the general elections and the poor show in the 2008 panchayat polls. “Given that the public mood is against us, it would be a difficult task to retain the municipalities where we are at the helm,” a CPM state committee member said.

Of the 16 municipalities, the Congress controls four and Trinamul one — the Egra municipality.

Seat wrangling has not allowed the two parties to reach an understanding and each side blames the other for it.

Trinamul leaders said the Congress demanded too many seats. “Our leaders in the districts tried their best, but the Congress did not co-operate and continued to ask for more seats,” said Trinamul state president Subrata Bakshi.

In three Congress-controlled municipalities of north Bengal — Mal in Jalpaiguri and Kaliaganj and Islampur in North Dinajpur — the two parties are fighting each other in all 52 wards. For this, the Congress blames Trinamul.

“Trinamul hardly has a presence in Mal, Kaliaganj and Islampur, so we offered the party two of the 52 seats. But they declined the offer,” said a state Congress leader.

Trinamul leaders blamed the Congress’s Raigunj MP, Deepa Das Munshi, for scuttling the alliance. “Deepa was opposed to an alliance even during the Lok Sabha polls,” said a Trinamul leader from Islampur.

In North 24-Parganas, the allies are pitted against each other in most of the seats.

The Opposition alliance has held in Maheshtala and Rajpur-Sonarpur in South 24-Parganas as also Sainthia in Birbhum, Egra in East Midnapore and the Asansol Municipal Corporation in Burdwan.

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