Left slips in Bengal municipal polls
BS Reporter / Kolkata July 02, 2008, 14:57 IST Telegraph
The Left Front lost further ground in the municipal polls in West Bengal, as the Trinamul Congress snatched away three municipalities of Medinipur (close to Nandigram), Habra and Guskara, while the Congress won Dalkhola in central Bengal and Dubrajpur, close to Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee's seat of Bolpur.
Trinamul retained its Diamond Harbour municipality 45km south of Kolkata, while the Congress retained its Haldibari municipality in north Bengal.
The Left Front retained its traditional red fortress, Barddhaman, 100km west of Kolkata and possibly the state's most prosperous non-metro municipality, as also Panihati and Chakdaha, two municipalities in industrial belts north of Kolkata, and Mekhliganj, Balurghat and Alipurduar in central and north Bengal.
As a result, the tally in the 13 municipalities that elected their boards was Left Front five, and the Trinamul and Congress four civic bodies each.
While the opposition parties were elated, CPI(M) leaders like Amal Haldar downplayed the significance of the results saying that voters in each of the civic bodies numbered some thousands only and did not represent a wave or a swing.
However, he admitted that the Left had not expected to lose so many seats. The opposition victory in Guskara, in Bardhhaman district, and Dubrajpur in Birbhum district, were real surprises as both the districts were Left fortresses where the opposition made a dent for the first time.
Opposition parties including the BJP which has opened its tally for the first time in the state at this level, said voters had turned against the economic policies of the Left which neglected overall development and favoured a few select industry groups for who the state was acquiring land from farmers indiscriminately.