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Advantage Left in Round One

Nothing but divine intervention can stop the red brigade in the 3 districts on April 17, writes Arindam Sarkar.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2006 15:18 IST

When EVMs start buzzing in Bengal on Monday, Opposition parties will be praying for a miracle.

For nothing short of divine intervention can stop the red juggernaut in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia --- the three districts that go to polls in the first phase.

In West Midnapore, of the 21 Assembly seats up for grabs, the CPM has 14 in its kitty. The CPI and the Trinamool Congress have two each. The Congress is clinging to one.

Bad news for the Opposition, or whatever is left of it -- the CPM is now gunning for Trinamool strongholds--- Nandanpur and Daspur.

Mamata Banerjee's party has lent a helping hand as both sitting MLAs are on shaky ground. In contrast, the CPM is firing on all cylinders.

It has fielded three ministers in this district --- Surjya Kanta Mishra, Maheshwar Murmu and Sushanta Ghosh. The Congress challenge is restricted to one seat--- Sabong.

In Bankura, again, the Left will reap the benefits of a divided Opposition. Both the Trinamool and the Congress having failed to put up a strong show here.

In 2001, the CPM had won nine of the 13 seats; the CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc and the Trinamool won one each.

This time, while Left Front partners will retain their seats, the CPM is likely to add one to its tally. The lone Trinamool seat --- Bankura--- is in danger of falling to CPM candidate Partha De.

The only hint of a tussle is in Purulia---a red bastion. Of the 11 Assembly segments, the CPM has 8 in its kitty and the Forward Bloc three.

But this time both the Congress and the Trinamool are eager to open their accounts.

Congress state unit chief Pranab Mukherjee claims the party is well-placed to capture Arsa and Kashipur seats from the Left while the Trinamool is eyeing the Manbazar seat, where it has fielded KP Singh Deo, a popular politician.