New faces crowd Left Front civic poll list - Plan to offer Bikash law post

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 18.04.10
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From top: Bhattacharyya; Sil

Calcutta, April 17: The CPM is planning to make mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya the advocate-general of the state following his refusal to contest the civic polls in May.

Despite the party leadership’s embarrassment over his repeated public refusals not to contest, Left Front chairman Biman Bose today defended Bhattacharyya while releasing the list of Front candidates for the Calcutta Municipal Corporation election.

“It is not a big issue, what the mayor has said (in public). He has been relieved since he will be entrusted with an important legal responsibility,’’ Bose said.

The current advocate-general of Bengal, Balai Ray, also a CPM veteran, has requested that he be allowed to step down owing to ill health.

CPM insiders did not rule out the possibility of Bhattacharyya replacing law minister Rabilal Maitra.

Bose said the leadership had struck a deal with Bhattacharyya in 2005, when he was projected as the mayoral candidate while serving as the advocate-general of Tripura.

“He was asked to contest and take up (mayoral) responsibilities for one term. Since he has served his term, I can’t say what he has said is wrong,’’ Bose argued.

Bhattacharya had said he had “played his innings” at the CMC and wanted to give more time to his legal profession. He has continued with his practice at Calcutta High Court. A section of the city and state leadership, however, wanted him to contest as his absence would help the Opposition campaign that the CPM had conceded defeat before the battle.

Claiming that the mayor’s absence would not affect the Left Front’s campaign, Bose said he was “happy” with the present board’s performance.

CPM leader Deepak Kumar Nag will contest from ward 100 in south Calcutta, which is now represented by Bhattacharyya.

The Left Front has nominated 92 new candidates for this year’s polls, including 71 from the CPM, with the aim of introducing “younger, active and popular new faces”. It wants to pre-empt the anti-incumbency factors following the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha polls last year.

Party sources said some councillors were dropped for their alleged involvement in illegal real estate promotion and lack of public interface.

A few others faced the axe because their seats were reserved for women and the Scheduled Castes. Some professionals close to the CPM, including professors, doctors and lawyers, have been given nominations with the aim of broadening the party base.

Bose said more than 65 per cent of the candidates contesting from the 141 wards were new. Around 40 per cent of the contestants are in their forties.

Although the CPM had decided to drop councillors who had served three terms, Bose said the party had to make some “exceptions to the rule”.

Three mayor-in-council members, Tuhin Bera, Kalyani Mitra and Mrinal Mondol, all from the CPM, do not figure on the list. The chairman of the CMC, Nirmal Mukherjee, has been dropped, reportedly on health ground.

Although Bose declined to project any of the nominees as a mayoral candidate, former MP and MLA Sudhansu Sil is likely to emerge as the front-runner for the post if the Front retains the board. He will contest from ward 20 in north Calcutta.

With Bengal lagging behind in ensuring 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies, the Front has nominated 67 women, more than 47 per cent of the total number of candidates.

The number of Muslim candidates has also been increased to 24 with the aim of winning back minority voters.

The CPM’s partners have almost retained their old teams.

Bose declined to comment on the outcome of the city civic polls but admitted that it would be a “tough battle”.