Political realignment in West Bengal

July 3rd, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by ANI  

Sonia Gandhi

By S.K. Ghose

Kolkata, July 3 (ANI): The Congress high command has sought Trinamul Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjees support in fighting the ruling Marxists in Bengal notwithstanding her partys somewhat ambiguous relationship with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

This was apparent from the cryptic remark, made by Ahmed Patel, Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhis political secretary, yesterday that it was quite natural for the two main opposition parties in the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-ruled state to develop a political understanding.

Ahmed Patels observation indicates that the party will not mind entering into an alliance with the Trinamul Congress for the coming Lok Sabha polls as Banerjee has been keeping a safe distance from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bengal.

The change in the Congress high commands attitude towards TMC comes in the wake of deterioration in the Congresss relationship with the Left parties over the Indo-US nuclear accord and TMCs resounding success in the panchayat and municipal polls.

Opposition parties have captured nine out of 13 municipalities, which went to polls on Sunday. While TMC has wrested the Guskara(Burdwan), Habra(North 24 Parganas) and Midnapore municipalities from the CPI(M), the Congress has snatched Dalkhola in North Bengal from the Left.

However, the Congress will have to depend on TMCs support to form the boards in Dubrajpur and Alipurduar in north Bengal.

The outcome of the municipal elections shows that Mamata Banerjees policy of maintaining equidistance from the Congress and the BJP has paid good dividends.
TMC has, on its own, captured Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas and Guskara, but will have to depend on the Congress to form boards in Midnapore and Habra. The Congress has, on its own, retained Haldibari, its stronghold in North Bengal.

The municipal polls have also brought to the surface the unresolved differences between the CPI(M) and the Forward Bloc in North Bengal.

Forward Block candidates and some independents backed by the party captured all the nine seats in Mekhliganj, trouncing the CPI(M) and the opposition parties.

At Balurghat in North Bengal the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) alone won 17 out of 23 seats with the Marxists capturing only five.

The CPI(M) has been able to retain only the Panihati(North 24 Parganas) and Burdwan municipalities on its own.

The Bengal CPI(M)s refusal to make any comments on the poll reverses indicates the partys growing concern over its possible performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

Apart from going slow on land acquisition and making efforts to win over the minority community, the party intends to work out a strategy to keep the opposition divided. (ANI)

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