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Home / West-bengal / Much-hyped ‘Siliguri model’ falls flat, failure deals a blow to tie-up

Much-hyped ‘Siliguri model’ falls flat, failure deals a blow to tie-up

As the results came out, the Congress was reduced to one from four seats but the major sufferer was the Left, as they could secure only four seats from 23 seats
Representational image.
Representational image.
File photo

Avijit Sinha & Bireswar Banerjee   |   Siliguri   |   Published 15.02.22, 02:07 AM

The “Siliguri model”— a strategy of tacit understanding which the Left and the Congress maintained for past 13 years to thwart Trinamul from securing majority at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) –- flopped on Monday as Mamata Banerjee’s party managed to secure as many as 37 of 47 seats at the civic body.

As the results came out, the Congress was reduced to one from four seats but the major sufferer was the Left, as they could secure only four seats from 23 seats – vis-à-vis the results of 2015 civic polls – with stalwarts like Asok Bhattacharya facing the defeat.

The informal understanding among the Left and Congress had first come to surface back in 2009 when the Left councillors had voted in favour of the mayoral candidate fielded by Congress to stop Trinamul from securing the civic board.

The same strategy had helped the Left to win the civic body in 2015 and also the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad – the rural body of Siliguri sub-division, elections of which were held in the same year.

In fact, the Left had got reduced to a minority soon after they came to power in SMC (in 2015) but it is with the help of Congress councillors, who, despite sitting in opposition, went on backing the Left during their five-year-long tenure.

This time, both the Left and Congress had come up with a more “formal” version of “Siliguri Model.”

Unlike yesteryears, when the understanding was “informal,” Bhattacharya and some other leaders had openly campaigned for Congress, a move that had made the Congress reciprocate and offer a similar campaign in the wards where only the Left had fielded candidates.

In Siliguri, there are 47 wards. The Left had fielded candidates in 43 wards, leaving those four wards where Congress had won in 2015.

The Congress on the other hand, had fielded 34 candidates, leaving 13 wards where the Left had won.  

“The strategy however, didn’t work this time. They have been summarily rejected by Siliguri residents. The four Left candidates and the Congress candidate, who have won, could win only because of their own reputation and services to people,” pointed a political observer.

Sankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president, accused the Left for their overconfidence and said an adjustment of seats ahead of the polls would have led to better results for both the political forces.

“It is because of the overconfidence of a section of Left leaders. They fielded candidates in 43 seats which led to division of votes and helped Trinamul. They spoke of a post-poll alliance with us but it seems the voters didn’t buy it. A pre-poll adjustment of seats would have been a better option,” said the senior Congress leader.

Asok Bhattacharya, who was the Left Front’s face for the polls, admitted that the mandate went against them.

“The results are disastrous for us and also prove that our political strategy was wrong,” said the veteran political leader, as he himself lost to Alam Khan, the Trinamul candidate, in ward six of the city.

Like the Left and Congress, the BJP too, had to face a defeat from the ruling party of the state. The saffron camp, which was ahead in 45 of 47 wards of SMC at the Assembly elections in 2021, could win only in five seats.

One of the prominent BJP leaders who had to face defeat today was Shankar Ghosh, the Siliguri MLA, who had contested from ward 24.

Ghosh, when contacted, was brief in his reaction.

“I don’t want to indulge in any blame game. But a considerable section of young voters got wrongly influenced and their mandate went against me,” he said.



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