In red den and ballot box, CPM fights loosening grip Office shut for Trinamul fear

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  • Published 12.05.11

Burdwan, May 11: If the winds of change have shaken the CPM’s domination in the state, nowhere is it better manifested than in red citadel Burdwan, and more so in Ketugram.

The CPM has closed down its local committee office in Ketugram block-I fearing attacks by Trinamul Congress activists. On Monday evening, local CPM leaders informed police in writing that they had closed down the office because of “threats by Trinamul-backed musclemen”.

“We decided to close down the office because we don’t want any trouble. Trinamul-backed goons have been threatening our workers and supporters in the locality,” said Durjodhan Sar, the CPM leader who oversees the local committee.

The CPM has been winning the Ketugram Assembly seat since 1977. Even in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when Trinamul handed the Left its biggest defeat in decades, the CPM led by about 20,000 votes in Ketugram. The party runs all the eight gram panchayats in Ketugram block-I.

But since the Lok Sabha polls, the area has witnessed frequent clashes between Trinamul and the CPM over control of turf. At least 13 people — 10 supporters of Trinamul and three of the CPM — have been killed in clashes between May 2009 and January 2011.

The latest deaths in such clashes occurred on January 5, when brothers and Trinamul supporters Tapas and Sukhiram Saha were shot dead by an alleged CPM activist. Kailash Hazra, the accused, had been arrested.

In end-2009 too, the CPM had closed down the Ketugram office because of the frequent clashes. But the party had reopened it on March 10 this year following the announcement of polls on March 1 and the subsequent deployment of central forces. CPM district secretary Amal Haldar and district secretariat member Achintya Mullick were present when the office was reopened.

But the party decided to shut it again after Trinamul started to “intimidate” CPM workers soon after Ketugram went to the polls on May 3.

“The surveillance by the central forces became slack after the polls ended. Taking advantage of that, Trinamul-backed goons started threatening our party workers and supporters,” said Tapan Kazi, a local CPM leader.

District police officers said 10 companies of central forces had been deployed in Ketugram on poll day. “The forces were withdrawn for redeployment elsewhere for the remaining three poll phases,” said Jyotirmoy Roy, the sub-divisional police officer of Katwa. He said one company of central forces would be deployed in Ketugram tomorrow, a day before counting.

Roy said he knew that the CPM had closed down its local committee office. “We will provide security if the CPM approaches us with the wish to keep the office open,” he said.

The local CPM leaders, however, said they had no immediate plans of reopening the office. “We will watch the situation after the central forces arrive tomorrow. We will take a decision later,” said CPM leader Sar.