Haldia poll jitters for CPM

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 7.04.07
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Calcutta, April 7: The CPM today urged its Left Front partners to gear up for next month’s elections to five municipalities, the first since the Nandigram killings. But the party is thinking of postponing polls in the Haldia municipality, which is right next to the site of the March 14 bloodbath.

At a front meeting, CPM state secretary Biman Bose said the Haldia municipality elections would have to wait because of delimitation of some wards.

The Haldia municipality board is chaired by CPM MLA Tamalika Panda Seth, the wife of Lakshman Seth who heads the Haldia Development Authority.

The CPM has 22 seats and the CPI three in the 25-ward municipality. Its term ends on August 5, but the state election commission wanted to conduct elections here along with the five municipalities, whose terms expire in June.

Unofficially, however, party leaders admitted that the real reason for deferring the elections is the anti-CPM wave blowing in the wake of the Nandigram police firing.

The party has already suffered a few setbacks. The Opposition for the first time wrested power from Citu in the Haldia dock institute. The CPM also lost in the Nandigram college students’ union election. “The truth is the CPM is apprehensive of losing the Haldia municipal board,” said a front leader.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee admitted at the meeting that the government’s efforts at normalising the situation have failed so far. “The Opposition is still refusing to attend an all-party meeting. It’s a total lack of mutual faith between people on both sides.”

The CPM today turned down a proposal by RSP leader Kshiti Goswami to set up a committee, to be headed by Forward Bloc veteran Asoke Ghosh, to look into complaints of clashes between Opposition and CPM supporters in Nandigram.

Bhattacharjee declined to fix responsibility for the firing. “It’s still under investigation and the matter is sub judice,” the chief minister said.

In the run-up to the municipal polls, the CPM has lined up a slew of sops for villagers.

The chief minister told Left leaders today that a fresh list of below-poverty-line families would be prepared “to accommodate the real poor”.

A front leader quoted Bhattacharjee as saying that “many well-off people have got into the BPL list” and this needs to be corrected.

The leaders have also been asked to ensure more jobs under the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, now extended to 17 out of 19 districts in the state.

The promises, the CPM hopes, will also improve its bruised image post-Nandigram, said a front leader.