What is the biggest challenge the Trinamool Congress (TMC) faces during the three-tier West Bengal Panchayat elections scheduled in July this year?
Literally the Trinamool itself, thanks to the infighting over nominations which has forced many disgruntled TMC leaders to file nominations as independent candidates.
In fact, the same explains why the TMC could not field candidates in 32 out of 140 gram panchayats of Nandigram block I and 13 out of 91 in Nandigram block II.
The scene is no different in Singur where ministers Becharam Manna and Rabindranath Bhattacharya openly bickered over giving a zila parishad ticket to Manik Das, who was accused by party workers of collecting money from locals for ensuring railway jobs.
In Nandigram, Trinamool’s failure in filing nominations in so many seats is attributed to infighting.
The result: Trinamool’s prime opposition in these two blocks is the independent candidates, who have filed nominations from 56 seats in Nandigram 1 block and 51 seats in Nandigram 2 block.
The Left Front, which was virtually swept off its feet from Nandigram lock, stock and barrel, in 2008, managed to file nominations from only 10 seats in Nandigram 1 block and in 40 seats in Nandigram 2 block.
“All these independent candidates are backed by either of the two Trinamool factions led by Abu Taher and Sheikh Sufian, the two key faces of Nandigram’s anti-acquisition movement,” a district Trinamool leader told HT. Party sources said Taher’s followers had got the maximum tickets on party symbols, resulting in Sufian’s followers to contest as independents.
A glaring example of the infighting is the Khodambari area of Nandigram 2 block, where on a panchayat samiti seat Mahadeb Bag is the official candidate of the Trinamool Congress and Subrata Hazra, has filed nomination as an independent.
“Some of our partymen have filed nominations as independent candidates. We have requested such persons to refrain from doing so. Those who won’t follow party instructions would have to face action,” said Mamud Hossain, a genereal secretary of Trinamool Congress in East Midnapore district.
In Singur, at least seven Trinamool activists have filed nominations as independent candidates.
In Nandigram, infighting between Abu Taher and Sheikh Sufian, two key anti-acquisition leaders, resulted in Trinamool Congress’ failing to file nominations from 45 out of 231 gram panchayat seats.
In Singur, ministers Becharam Manna and Rabindranath Bhattacharjee publicly bickered over a ticket to Manik Das, a key anti-acquisition leader
In Nandigram, independent candidates, with 107 nominations for 231 seats, are Trinamool’s prime opponents.