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Cong, CPM eye joint fight for survival

Mukul Roy (left) and Locket Chatterjee ahead of the civic polls in Dhupguri on Friday. Pictures by Biplab Basak

Siliguri, Aug. 11: The two beleaguered political forces - the Congress and the Left - have stitched together an understanding for Sunday's civic polls in Dhupguri and Buniadpur, despite different paths they took in recent Rajya Sabha polls.

With the BJP gaining ground in various pockets of north Bengal and Trinamul establishing its hegemony, both the Left and the Congress face the question of survival in what used to be a happy hunting ground for them not so long ago.

"Anti-Trinamul voters are now apprehensive of voting for either the Congress or the Left. They seem to be shifting towards the BJP, which has to be stopped and we are trying that wherever we can," said a CPM state secretariat member.

While Trinamul has pulled all stops to ensure majority in both the civic bodies, the BJP, too, has set its sights on winning several wards out of 16 in Dhupguri (Jalpaiguri) and 14 in Buniadpur (South Dinajpur).

"A tacit understanding, irrespective of the decisions of the central leadership of both the Congress and the CPM, was the need of the hour," said a state Congress leader.

In the 2012 polls in Dhupguri, Trinamul had secured 11 wards, the Left four and the BJP one. Eventually, two Left councillors had defected to the ruling party.

Trinamul, BJP and the Left have fielded candidates in all 16 wards. However, in what is being seen as assistance to the Left from the Congress, it has put up candidates only in three wards.

In Buniadpur, a new body, the Left, Trinamul and the BJP, have put up candidates in all 14 wards.

The Congress, however, is contesting only in two.

"Of course, there were organisational difficulties in putting up more candidates, but there was also the intent to join forces with the Left to put up a decent fight," said a local Congress leader.

Jalpaiguri district Congress president Nirmal Ghosh Dastidar admitted to asking supporters to vote for "the best" candidate.

The CPM leadership, however, has been more vocal in public regarding the understanding. "Even if they have as few as 10 votes in a ward, we want them to defeat Trinamul and keep the BJP out," said CPM leader Jayanta Majumdar.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR JALPAIGURI AND RAIGANJ CORRESPONDENTS


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