People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 10, 2007
RIGHT-WING PUNDITS FLUMMOXED
LF Dominates Rural, Urban Bye-Elections
CPI(M) state secretary Biman Basu and Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee congratulated the people of Bengal for their support for the Left Front in the bye-elections. Biman Basu said that the reasons why the Left Front could not be successful to the extent it was expected to be would be subjected to detailed and factual analysis subsequently.
When Mamata Banerjee addressed a media conference at her luxuriously appointed private layer that doubles as the office no one of the Trinamul Congress at Kalighat in south Kolkata, and announced a ‘victory of the people,’ the presence of an uncharacteristic tremble and weakness of tonality in her rasping voice was evident, and with abundance clarity for everybody to realise.
The by-poll results depict four important political factors:
All the Gram Panchayat seats fought at Nandigram, Singur, and Khejuri have gone to the CPI(M) candidates of the Left Front and by appreciably big margins
There has been a considerable increase in the number of seats and percentage of votes in both rural and urban polling
Left Front has won 60 percent votes at Durgapur Municipal Corporation (DMC) in other industrial township polls
The popular verdict shows a clear and massive popular support for the pro-people policies of the Bengal Left Front government including the industrial policy
Throughout the state, the rural polls signalled a big electoral triumph for the CPI(M) and the Left Front. LF candidates have walked away with wins in close to 80 percent of the zilla parishad seats, nearly 70 percent of the panchayat samity (PS) seats, and just under 64 percent of the gram panchayat seats.
The picture that emerged after counting at Singur and Nandigram showed that in both places, a secret and covert mahajot had been shamelessly entered into by the Pradesh Congress with the Trinamul Congress and the BJP among others. Both the Singur gram panchayat seats in the fray saw the CPI(M) candidates win by hefty margins. The Trinamul Congress leadership had tried their ghoulish worst to ensure that they win the seats. A single freakish instance may suffice.
The local Trinamul Congress MLA was seen shamelessly going about every mid-afternoon in the run up to the polls, bare-chested, holding aloft his religious symbol in the shape of a rather thickly plaited ‘sacred thread’, and tearfully and loudly crying plaintively for a win for the Trinamul Congress candidate, calling upon the voters to ‘touch the thread and swear that they would not ditch didi, as they had done the last time.’ The voters simply ignored the communal appeal—tears, sacred threads, and all-- when the time came to cast their ballots.
At Nandigram, the lone gram panchayat seat that was up for grabs was a walk-away for the CPI(M) although here too, all kinds of foul campaign modes were indulged in by the Trinamul Congress-Naxalite-SUCI-BJP-Pradesh Congress alliance. Dire threats issued by these worthies were just ignored by the voters who once more demonstrated the political maturity and the steel-hard resolve when it came to upholding democratic norms.
Incidentally, at Salanpore in Burdwan where an iron-and-steel factory is coming up, both gram panchayat seats and the single zilla parishad seat fought for, saw impressive wins for the CPI(M).
WIN BIGGER THAN IN 2003
Of the 398 gram panchayat seats fought for, Left Front won 256 seats. In 2003, the figure was 249 / 398. Thus the LF gained seven seats this time around as furious propaganda by the right reactionaries and their cronies the ‘little leftists’ raged about the LF’s debacle come the rural polls at the gram panchayat level in particular. The mahajot got 142 seats, five less than in 2003.
At the panchayat samity level, LF walked away with 65 of the 94 seats leaving the combined opposition wobbling in its wake with 29 seats. The LF could gain one more seat than in 2003. In the case of zilla parishad, the LF won 19 of the 24 seats in 11 districts. The alliance remained satisfied with five seats.
In some of the critical districts, the success of the LF in the village polls was quite noteworthy. These include Hooghly where the LF won 23 of the 28 gram panchayats in the fray, and in Midnapore east where the gram panchayat figure is 18 out of 25, and 3 out of 5 in the panchayat samity level. Both zilla parishad seats went to Left Front and by vast margins at Tamluk and Ramnagar.
In Midnapore west, (where according to inter alia, Ananda Bazaar Patrika and Bartaman, the Maoists hold complete sway and supremacy, aided and abetted by the Trinamul Congress), the LF won 14 of the 21 gram panchayat seats, winning all three panchayat samity seats. The big win at the Belatikari gram panchayat is noteworthy because here in the recent past, a CPI(M) worker was brutally done to death by what later transpired as Maoists aided by Trinamul Congress.
In Murshidabad, where the Pradesh Congress strongman Adhir Chaudhuri holds sway if the corporate media is to be believed, the LF walked away easily with 23 of the 36 gram panchayat seats, winning eight more seats than in 2003. LF won nine of the 12 PS seats in the fray, two more than in 2003. LF won two zilla parishad seats of the three fought.
Five municipalities including DMC went to the polls. In DMC, the LF won 37 of the 43 seats that were contested. In Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri, the Left Front won 11 of the 16 seats fought for, winning the municipal board.
In all, 115 municipal seats went to the polls. The Left Front won 67 seats, with the CPI(M) 60, CPI 4, FB 2, and RSP 1. The Socialist Party fighting on its own managed to win one seat.
Of the 47 seats won by the combined opposition or mahajot, covert or overt, Trinamul Congress got 16, Trinamul-supported independent 1, BJP 1, and Pradesh Congress 1. On the other hand, the mahajot won in Panskura municipality winning 10 out of 17 seats. Pradesh Congress with covert help from the mahajot won at Nalhati in Birbhum, and retained Coopers’ Camp in Nadia.
The bye-elections in ten municipal bodies in 11 wards saw the Left Front win 6, the Trinamul Congress, 4, and Congress 1.
PREDICTIONS GONE WOEFULLY WRONG
Pages and pages of op-ed pieces and analytical essays filled with political punditry of the doom-and-gloom kind for the Left Front’s poll prospects have been written and re-written in Bengali newspapers like the Bartaman, the Bangla Statesman, the Ananda Bazaar Patrika, the low-circulation but content-wise nearly-libellous Ekdin, and the national English dailies including the Times of India, the Hindustan Times, the Telegraph and the Indian Express where facts have a wondrous and judicious mix with fiction, whether by design or default, we are not quite able to understand and a bevy of friendly ‘left’ activists-cum-critics of the CPI(M) had predicted a massive slide into defeat in the rural areas for the CPI(M), come the bye-elections and that the industrial policy of the Left Front government was somehow wrong and that it is the Left that shall have to pay the price, come the polls, now and in the days to come. The predictions proved horribly wrong. (B P)