People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 10, 2012


Haldia Shows the Way:

‘Yellow Card’ to TMC Govt


From Our Special

Correspondent in Kolkata


ELECTIONS to six municipal bodies in West Bengal, which was marked by terror, reflected signs of discontent against the TMC government.


It was particularly manifest in Left Front’s win in Haldia in East Midnapore district. It was here that the anti-Left Front anarchy reached its crescendo since the days of Nandigram. Trinamool Congress wrested East Midnapore district council in 2008, won the parliamentary seats in 2009 and all assembly constituencies of the district in 2011. Right from 2009, incessant attacks have been launched against CPI(M) in Haldia. After 2011, the trade unions in this industrial and port town were made a special target. CPI(M) offices were destroyed or captured, hundreds of workers were chased away from their workplaces. The reign of terror was led by TMC Lok Sabha member Subhendu Adhikary who proclaimed that there would be no one in Haldia to hold Red flags. Frontline CPI(M) leaders were jailed under false cases.


During the elections to the municipal body, CPI(M) and Left Front could not conduct peaceful campaign even for a single day. Candidates were threatened with dire consequences, their families attacked. As Congress had no alliance with TMC, their candidates and potential candidates were also attacked. Congress candidates had to withdraw nomination after their family members were kidnapped. Left Front conducted determined, door-to-door campaign. Even on the day of elections, TMC hoodlums raided different areas to threaten people, though they faced resistance from the poorer sections.   


The people of Haldia rebuffed the TMC and the Left Front retained the municipality with a 15-11 margin. Out of these, 14 were won by CPI(M) and 1 by CPI. In three wards, Left Front candidates were defeated narrowly, with margins of 40 to 52 votes only.  Left Front chairman Biman Basu congratulated the people of Haldia and said that they have silently rejected the politics of terror.


The dejection of the TMC with the defeat in Haldia was very much evident. Immediately after the results were declared, TMC activists attacked the car of Tamalika Panda Seth, CPI(M) leader and outgoing chairperson of the municipal body. CPI(M) activists were attacked in different places. CPI(M) local committee office in Haldia was ransacked.


In nine wards of Durgapur Municipal Corporation, TMC went into full-scale terrorisation.  CPI(M) booth camps were attacked. In many wards, TMC activists entered into booths and took control of EVMs. CPI(M) polling agents were not allowed to enter. Booth capturing took place in many wards. TMC activists started terrorising the people from the night before. They threatened voters not to come out of houses, particularly in areas where Left has a strong presence. In some wards, police helped TMC and chased away voters from the queue. Practically, Durgapur witnessed a serious attack on the democratic rights of the people.


The Left Front has demanded repoll in 29 booths in Durgapur where CPI(M) polling agents were chased away and voters were dispersed by TMC anti-socials brought from outside the city. TMC won this corporation with 29 seats while Left Front won in 11 seats. The Congress and BJP won a seat each, while an independent won a seat.  


In Panshkura, the atmosphere was vitiated. There also Left Front cadre and even Congress cadre were not allowed to campaign freely. TMC threatened to ‘whitewash’ the opposition. TMC retained the municipality winning 12 seats while Left Front bagged 5.  CPI(M) won 3 seats while CPI bagged 2. TMC’s outgoing chairman was defeated by CPI candidate. Congress failed to get any seat here.


Another setback to the TMC occurred in Congress’ hand at Coopers Camp when the latter won 11seats out of 12. Congress maintained their hold on the notified area body despite all out aggressive campaign against them by their partner in the state government. Top leaders of the both the parties were engaged in bitter exchange in Coopers Camp as well as in Nalhati in Birbhum district. TMC retained this board with thin margin, winning 8 seats while Left Front won 3, Congress 3 and BJP 1. Here too TMC’s outgoing chairman was defeated in two seats despite every attempt to get him through. In a ward, Left Front candidate was even arrested the night before the voting day and was freed on bail only in the next afternoon that too after a rebuff from court. Widespread discontent was reflected in Nalhati.


Left Front suffered defeat in Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district. Election process was more or less peaceful here. But TMC took no chance and just before the elections they admitted Kamtapur Peoples’ Party leader Mitali Roy in their fold. KPP is a secessionist party demanding separate Kamtapur state for quite long time. TMC won 11 and Left Front 4 seats while BJP won in a ward.


Biman Basu alleged that in many areas of these six municipalities, people were terrorised and normal democratic atmosphere was lacking. TMC unleashed violence before and even after the declaration of results. This was an ominous sign for civil rights in the state.


Suryakanta Misra, leader of opposition, termed the entire results as ‘Yellow card’, a warning to TMC and its government. “If they do not mend their ways, people will show them Red card in the future”, said Misra. He also alleged that the ruling party has started fearing people within a year of assuming power. This is the reason behind their terror tactics in civic elections.



The Challenge is to Preserve and

Consolidate the People's Victory

Rakesh Singha


HIMACHAL Pradesh, with a population of 69 lakh, is a mountainous state situated in the Himalayas. The state came into being with the re-organisation of Punjab in 1966. However, it got its statehood in January 1971. Himachal has only one municipal corporation that of Shimla where elections are being held since 1986 when it was formed. The recent election was the 6th election since inception. Till 1997, the corporation had 21 wards and after the merger of new areas, its strength increased to 25. As per the provision of the Municipal Corporation Act, the state government has the prerogative to nominate three councilors, however they do not have voting rights.


The Congress party had monopoly of power over the corporation since 1986. In successive elections, it was able to elect the mayor and deputy mayor with comfortable majority, although in the first election in 1986 the post of mayor went in its favour only by draw of lots in an evenly contested election. Out of the total 21 elected councilors then, the Congress had only 6 while the BJP's strength was 8 and independents were 3. An electoral front formed by the CPI(M) under the name Shimla Nagrik Morcha won 4 councilor seats, two each belonging to the CPI(M) and the Janta Dal. Based upon the political line of the Party to maintain equidistance from the two bourgeois landlord parties, the CPI(M) abstained from voting for the office of mayor that was being contested by the BJP and the Congress. The contest ended in a tie with both parties securing 10 votes each. However, the Congress won the post with the vote of a nominated councilor who otherwise did not have the right to vote.


In the second election for the municipal corporation of Shimla, held in 1992, the Congress was able to increase its strength to 17 councillors. In the third elections, held in 1997 it virtually swept the polls by winning 23 councilors, the other two going to the BJP. The strength of the wards had increased to 25. Such was its grip over the corporation.


In the last elections (fifth elections), the Congress had 15 councilors, the BJP 8 and the CPI(M) 2. There was a 61 per cent polling with 69,095 votes having been cast. Both the posts of mayor and deputy mayor went to the Congress party.




The Municipal Corporation Act was amended in 2011 bringing changes in the composition of the corporation. The changes related to 50 per cent of the wards being reserved for women and holding of direct election for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor. The second amendment of direct election was incorporated with the intention that the BJP, which is the ruling party in the state, would have an advantage over other parties in this form of election.


The results of the recent sixth election to the Shimla Municipal Corporation however turned out to be a landmark election with the demolition of the Congress monopoly of power for last 26 years and the shattering of the dream of the BJP to capture the corporation. Although the people of Shimla have given a fractured mandate for the election of the 25 wards, they have voted decisively in the election for the post of mayor and deputy mayor. The people have rejected the nominees of both the bourgeois landlord parties and have elected the CPI(M) candidates by a margin of more than 8000 votes for the office of mayor and a margin of 4778 votes for the post of deputy mayor.


This has come as a shock to both the BJP and Congress who remain spell bound by the results even till this day. Their leaders had declared confidently during the election campaign that these polls were the semi-finals before the assembly elections to be held in October/November of this year. The BJP has received a bigger shock as its all out efforts to win the posts came a cropper. The Congress, which was eagerly relying upon the anti-incumbency of the four and half years rule of the BJP state government, has been reduced to a poor third as far as the mayor and deputy mayor contest is concerned.


The declining image of the Congress across the country would in normal circumstances have given an opportunity to the other major bourgeois landlord party, the BJP, to take up the political space being vacated by the grand old party. But history unfolded when this did not happen, despite the Left being weak in the state. The political trend of the Shimla Municipal corporation elections must be a general trend of the country where people are not ready to accept the neo-liberal, corrupt, divisive and communal politics of the BJP. It would be a different matter, if BJP is the lone force on the other side, thus keeping alive the danger of a rightward shift in the Indian polity. However, the most important message given by the Shimla Municipal Corporation election is that even if a small but shrill voice of the Left if raised with determination, it creates confidence amongst the people to build an alternative political path.




The BJP was desperate to capture power in the Shimla Municipal Corporation. It left no stone unturned to achieve this aim, as victory would create a political environment in its favour prior to the assembly elections which are due in November this year. The exercise began with the preparation of the electoral rolls in a manner that could ensure victory for the BJP. The previous Municipal Electoral Rolls of 2007 had 1.11 lakh voters. This time, around 31,000 genuine voters with Election Identity cards issued on behalf of the Election Commission of India were removed from the electoral rolls, slashing the total to around 80,000 voters.


True to its colours, the BJP infiltrated into the Election Commission apparatus. Even without serving any notice, thousands of names were deleted unilaterally from the existing electoral rolls. This was done on a concocted pretext that their names had existed on the electoral rolls of some other assembly constituencies also. However, the commission failed to explain that this was not an electoral roll of any assembly constituency but an electoral roll for the Municipal Corporation of Shimla. What the law forbids is that no person can have his name on the electoral rolls of two different parliament constituencies, two different state assembly constituencies or two different corporations, committees or panchayats.


That is the reason that the Election Commission is required to prepare different electoral rolls for elections to be held for the parliament, state assembly, municipal corporation etc. If it was not so, there would have been common electoral rolls for the parliament elections to that of the panchayats. It is not a coincidence that of the 31,000 names that were deleted from the voters list, majority of them were Left sympathisers.


A number of premium educational institutions exist in Shimla, among which include HP University, state medical college, five different women and boys colleges run by the state government etc. But it was shocking that names of none of the students residing in these hostels were included in the voters list. This was intentionally done as majority of these voters happened to be ‘inconvenient voters’ under the influence of the Left. However, the CPI(M) on its own initiative was able to enroll voters in the boys and girls hostels of HP University after taking up with the EC.


The other sections which were targeted to be deleted from the electoral rolls were the people in working class areas, 'dharas' where the Party had unleashed struggles in the past to prevent their demolition by the Municipal Corporation. The game plan of the BJP was so sinister, the final electoral rolls published did not include the building in which Sanjay Chauhan, the CPI(M) nominee for mayor resided. The names of people in the entire locality around his building were removed in order to make it look less blatant. Similarly, the area in which Tikender Panwar, the CPI(M) nominee for deputy mayor, lived was also targeted for exclusion from the voter list, including his name and also that of CPI(M) councillor candidate, Meera Sharma.


It was only when a protest was registered with the Election Commission that the names of Sanjay Chauhan and Tikender Panwar were included in the electoral rolls, paving way for them to contest.  Meera Sharma's name, along with others, was included on the direction of the state high court. It is this dubious game plan of the BJP of capturing the municipal corporation by foul means that the people foiled by their mandate.




This is only one of the dirty methods that the BJP adopted to win the elections. On the eve of the polling day, a SMS was flashed to the mobile phones of all the voters warning them of punishment if their names existed in rolls of any other assembly constituency apart from the Shimla municipal corporation. This message was sent by the ADM (Law and Order) who denied having sent it when the chairman of Election Commission enquired into this matter. The CPI(M) has lodged a complaint both with the police and the Election Commission for which investigation is going on. However, the results of this enquiry are also foreknown.


It is unimaginable the amount of liquor that was distributed by the two bourgeois landlord parties who were competing amongst each other on this account. It is difficult to state as to who is the winner as it was virtually a photo finish between the two. The BJP broke all ethics by supplying truck loads of liquor even in the 108 ambulances. The ministers Red beacon vehicles were also freely used for making safe delivery of the liquor on the eve of the polling day.


It will shock the readers to learn that the price of a vote was Rs 1000 in this election, which was distributed by both the Congress and BJP, reducing the democracy to a farce. The venue of cabinet meetings had shifted from the secretariat to mohalla's, gullies and colonies. The frequency of the meeting, from once a month, had been reduced to a meeting or two per day and on many emergency issues meetings were conducted on hourly basis. The agenda of these meetings was the acceptance of any kind of demand in return for a vote in favour of the BJP. The chief minister, cabinet ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries, chairmen of corporations, elected representatives of the panchayats etc from various parts of the state, including thousands of saffron brigade cadres, were pressed into service to ensure victory for their party.


Not confident of the response to their campaign, ministers camped at polling booths on the polling day to ensure that voters who were approached during the campaign and who had been both allured and threatened did not vacillate in the last minute. It is not the 12 councillors of the BJP who have won. It is precisely the threats and allurement which did the trick for the BJP, which now boasts of increasing their tally from 8 to 12 councillors.


It was a sad day for the BJP on counting day. The 50 kg of laddoos, which were ordered even prior to the declaration of the results, were ultimately distributed by the CPI(M) cadres who did not allow the halwai to incur a loss. This was the level of confidence of the BJP for a grand victor.

(To be continued)