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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Panchayat poll results send jitters down Congress spine

Arindham Sarkar, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, July 31, 2013
First Published: 13:04 IST(31/7/2013) | Last Updated: 13:07 IST(31/7/2013)

The panchayat poll results have alarmed the Congress.

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Party leaders fear that unless the organisation is rejuvenated in its strongholds and a re-alliance with chief minister Mamata Banerjee is reviewed, it stands to suffer in the mid 2014 parliamentary elections.

In 2009 parliamentary elections, the Congress struck an electoral alliance with Mamata and won six Lok Sabha constituencies and Mamata romped home with 20 MPs. This time around, Mamata is targeting over 30 out of 42 MPs in Bengal.

In this panchayat poll, Murshidabad is the only oasis in the Congress’ green belt.

Union minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury wrested the zilla parishad from the CPI(M).

But the Congress lost Uttar Dinajpur, the bastion of Union minister of state for urban development Deepa Dasmunshi, to the Left Front and is in a hung situation in Malda, the fort of Union minister of state for health AH Khan Chowdhury and MP Mausam Benazir Noor.

This has demoralised the Congress camp.

What’s more, the Congress has landed in a hung situation in 20 panchayat samitis and 250 gram panchayats.

It can’t form the rural board without the Trinamool. The Congress’ performance has raised the question whether it can afford to go to the parliamentary polls without Mamata.

Given the Mamata wave, apart from Adhir Chowdhury, the five other Congress MPs from Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and Malda face stiff challenge.

“AICC will take the decision on electoral alliance, I will brief it,” said state PCC chief and MP Pradip Bhattacharya.

On August 5, Pradip Bhattacharya is leaving for New Delhi to discuss the scene with AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary incharge of Bengal CP Joshi. “We will not go with the CPI(M) and harm our Lok Sabha poll prospects,” said Pradip Bhattacharya.

In Uttar Dinajpur, the CPI(M) has bagged 13 zilla parishad seats and the Congress and the Trinamool have got eight and five seats respectively.

Some Congress leaders said to keep the zilla parishad, Deepa might repeat the Siliguri Model.

During the Siliguri municipality polls, the Congress joined hands with the CPI(M) and formed the board.

But PCC chief ruled it out. “No Siliguri Model. The verdict is against us, we won’t manipulate.

Let the Trinamool decide,” said Pradip Bhattacharya.

In Malda, Congress has lost majority in the zilla parishad and will need Trinamool to form the board.

The Congress and the CPI(M have both got 16 seats in the zilla parishad and the Trinamool has won six. In 2003, the Congress pointed out, it allied with the Trinamool to form the board and, in 2008, the Congress got a majority.

Thus hinting, this time too, Congress and Trinamool can form the zilla parishad.


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