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The year Left burnt its fingers in Bengal

December 24, 2008 11:54 IST

Chinks seem to have started appearing in ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front's invincible support base in West Bengal after more than three decades of uninterrupted rule.

Developments in Nandigram and Singur, where the government's bid to acquire farm land for industrialization ran into stiff resistance from locals and main opposition Trinamool Congress, have given enough worries to the ruling alliance.

The CPI-M has burnt its fingers at both the places in trying to acquire farmland for industrial purposes and, in a rare electoral reverse, lost the rural polls in the two key districts while encountering poor shows at some other places.

Trinamool Congress, which spearheaded the anti farmland acquisition movement both in Nandigram and Singur, dethroned CPI-M from South 24 Parganas and swept East Midnapore, the district which last year witnessed fierce agitation and violence in Nandigram, in rural polls.

Circumspect Left leaders are now pondering how to tackle what political observers feel the growing influence of Trinamool Congress amidst talk of the party entering into an electoral alliance with Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections early next year.

The party chief has termed the panchayat poll results as the 'beginning of the end of CPI-M rule'.

Admitting that there were some setbacks in the rural poll, Left leaders, however, maintain that the people would not hand over the reins of the state to Trinamool Congress.

"It is true that some wrong steps were taken and people were angry with CPI-M after Nandigram and Singur. Attempts are being made to rectify them," CPI state council secretary Manju Kumar Majumder said.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee termed the panchayat poll result as the 'beginning of the end of CPI-M rule'.

Admitting the Left has experienced some down slide, Majumdar said, however, that the people are not yet prepared to hand over power to the TC chief who is known for her 'unpredictable politics'.

Some Left leaders argued that there might have been some jolt for CPI-M in rural polls but there was not much of erosion in its vote bank.

"Had that been so, results of last month's election to five municipal bodies would have been different. The CPI-M-led Left Front retained power in Howrah corporation and Jhargram municipality," former minister and Forward Bloc leader Hafiz Ali Sairani said.

The exit of Tata Motors Nano project from Singur did not have much impact on the poll results in urban and semi-urban areas, he said, adding in that case the Left's performance would have been better in Howrah which adjoins the metropolis.

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