Haldia Shows the Way: “Yellow Card” to TMC Government in West Bengal
From our Special Correspondent in Kolkata
Jubiliant Left Front activists in Haldia after declaration of results.
Elections to six municipal bodies in West Bengal, which was marked by terror, reflected signs of discontent against 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, special target was the trade unions in this industrial and port town. CPI(M) offices were destroyed or captured; hundreds of workers were chased away from their workplaces. The reign of terror was led by TMC MP Subhendu Adhikary who proclaimed that there would be no one in Haldia to hold Red flags. Frontline CPI(M) leaders were jailed through false cases. During the elections to 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 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 TMC and Left Front retained the municipality in a 15-11 margin. Out of these 14 were won by CPI(M) and 1 CPI. In three wards Left Front candidates were defeated in thin 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 TMC in the defeat in Haldia was evident. Immediately after the results were declared TMC activists attacked the car of Tamalika Panda Seth, CPI(M) leader and Chairperson of outgoing body. CPI(M) activists were attacked in different places. CPI(M) local committee office in Haldia was ransacked.
In 9 wards of Durgapur Municipal Corporation, TMC went into full-scale terrorization. CPI(M) booth camps were attacked. In many wards, TMC activists entered into booths and took control of EVM-s. CPI(M) polling agents were not allowed to enter. Booth capturing took place in many wards. TMC activists started terrorizing the people from the night before. They threatened voters not to come out of houses, particularly in areas where Lefts have a strong presence. In some wards, police helped TMC and chased away voters from line. Practically, Durgapur witnessed the attack on democratic rights of the people.
Left Front 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 11seats. Congress and BJP won 1seat each, while an independent won a seat.
In Panshkura, the atmosphere was vitiated. There also Left Front and even Congress were not allowed to campaign freely. TMC threatened to ‘whitewash’ opposition. TMC retained the municipality winning 12 seats while Left Front bagged 5. CPI(M) won 3seats while CPI bagged 2. TMC’s outgoing chairman was defeated by CPI candidate. Congress failed to get any seat here.
Another setback to TMC occurred in Congress’ hand at Coopers Camp when the later 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 in 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 4seats while BJP won in a ward.
Biman Basu alleged that in many areas of these six municipalities people were terrorized 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.
Surjya Kanta Mishra, opposition leader in the state termed the entire results as “Yellow Card”, a warning to TMC and it’s Government. “If they do not mend their ways, people will show them Red card in the future”, said Mishra. 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.