Left fort collapses in West Bengal (Second Lead)

May 16th, 2009 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kolkata, May 16 (IANS) West Bengal’s seemingly impregnable red fort collapsed Saturday with the opposition Congress and Trinamool Congress alliance poised to win more than half of the 42 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The Left Front has come up with its worst performance since 1977.
The Trinamool-Congress combine could end up with 26 seats, reducing the Left Front to 15. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) heavyweight Jaswant Singh won the Darjeeling seat.

In the 2004 elections, the Left Front had finished with a whopping 35 seats, while the Congress and the Trinamool had to be satisfied with six and one respectively.

But this time, the LF could end up losing 20 of the seats it won five years back.

The BJP also made a breakthrough, despite its erstwhile alliance partner Trinamool shifting allegiance to the Congress, by wresting Darjeeling, from where Jaswant Singh won by a big margin of 253,291 votes. Singh defeated Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) nominee Jibesh Sarkar. The BJP had won two seats in the state in 1999, but then it was in alliance with the Trinamool.

But the biggest story from the state is the near rout of the CPI-M-led Left Front which has been ruling the state uninterruptedly for 32 years. This is the LF’s worst performance since 1977, eclipsing its previous lowest tally of 26 in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections.

The LF has been decimated in five districts, besides facing the wrath of Muslims, angry over the violent incidents in Nandigram and the Sachar Committee report that pulled up the LF government for the backwardness of the minority committee. The defeat of the CPI-M in its stronghold of Uluberia - from where its candidate Hannan Mollah won eight times consecutively - is a pointer to this.

The LF, however, succeeded in retaining its base in the Maoist-dominated western belt of Bankura, Purulia and Mindapore West, besides doing well in Burdwan district.

Among the prominent candidates who have won or are set to win are External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee from Jangipur, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee from her pocket borough of Kolkata South and CPI-M leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharya from Bankura.

The heavyweights who have lost or are staring at defeat are deputy leader of the CPI-M Mohammed Salim from Kolkata North, CPI-M nominee and former Asian Games double gold medal winning athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, former union minister and BJP candidate Satya Brata Mukherjee (both from Krishnanagar) and state Congress working president Subrata Mukherjee.

The Trinamool candidates are also certain to win Tamluk - which includes the troubled zone of Nandigram - besides being ahead in Hooghly - which includes Singur. Both areas had seen violent protests over the LF government’s bid to set up industrial units by acquiring farmland, and are said to be the prime reason for the LF’s defeat.

All the three glamorous candidates of the Trinamool - singer Kabir Suman (Jadavpur), and film actors Tapas Pal (Krishnanagar) and Shatabdi Roy (Birbhum) - won from seats held by the LF earlier.

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