THERE'S NOTHING OFFICIAL ABOUT IT 

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By BY BARUN GHOSH in Calcutta
  • Published 20.06.00
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Calcutta, June 20 :     With less than a week for the civic polls, the rebels are threatening to overshadow official nominees. Dissidents from the CPM, Trinamul Congress and the BJP have been campaigning vigorously against candidates in various wards. For the CPM, the infighting in ward 60, in the Beniapukur area, has proved to be particularly embarrassing. Here, key party functionary Mohammad Nizamuddin's daughter-in-law, Zeba Nasreen, is contesting against the CPM nominee on a Trinamul ticket. "My father-in law approached me twice with a request not to contest the polls as a Trinamul candidate. But I told him clearly that I shall join Didi's party to expose the CPM," said Nasreeen. Her husband, Sagar Ahsen, Nizamuddin's elder son, too, criticised his father's decision to contest as a CPM candidate. While participating in a padayatra in support of his wife on Monday, Sagar said: "He (Nizamuddin) is wasting himself, working for a bankrupt party like the CPM." The battle for Behala is also turning out to a messy affair for the ruling CPM. Dissidents have even floated an outfit called Voter Dabi Manch (Voters' Grievances Forum) to expose the communist nexus with promoters and anti-socials. Manch members claim to have made their presence felt in almost all 18 wards, starting ward 115 in the Behala area. "Our purpose is to ensure the defeat of the Left Front nominees, who have done nothing for the people of Behala during the past five years," announced Manch leader Sunil Das, a former CPM zonal committee member. He was expelled in June 1999. "We are urging the people to vote for Trinamul Congress candidates," said another forum member, Susanta Bose. The CPM leadership, perturbed by the growing popularity of the rebels, has sent out feelers for a patch-up bid. "We are worried by the dissident activities on the eve of civil polls," admitted Naren Sen, secretary of CPM's Calcutta District Committee. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress, too, has been fighting rebels in its ranks. Officials say at least 35 Trinamul leaders have entered the fray under the banner of Trinamul Congress Banchao Committee to embarrass "official Trinamul nominees". "We are sure to make a dent in the civic polls," declares Arun Hazra, a Trinamul functionary leading the committee. The BJP is facing internal problems in at least 10 wards across the city. Santilal Jain, chairman of the state BJP's municipal cell, admitted that rebels are contesting a number of wards in north and central Calcutta. The West Bengal Congress camp is an exception. "This time, there was no scramble for party tickets. So, the question of dissidents entering the fray against official nominees does not arise," observed a key PCC functionary.