From early morning on Tuesday, brisk polling began in the 16 assembly segments of East Midnapore. By the time it ended late in the evening, more than 86% had cast their vote. Trinamool Congress was confident of winning all seats in fray.
The Trinamool’s confidence was further emboldened by the cautious and reserved reaction of the district CPI(M) leaders who said they expected good results. This was definitely not sounding confident from a party that along with it allies cornered the majority in the 2006 polls.
In 2006, Left Front won 13 of the 16 assembly segments, including Nandigram; Trinamool won three seats. “We cannot say that we will repeat the result. But we are confident of doing well in the elections,” said CPI(M) district secretariat member Ashok Guria.
CPI(M)’s apprehension stems from the fact that ever since the Left Front government’s decision to acquire land in the district for industrialisation (Nandigram), for a chemical hub over 14,000 acres of land that led to people’s protest and police firing that killed 14 villagers in January 2007, they have been losing base in the 17 anchals of the district. The first electoral blow came in the 2008 panchayat polls. People wiped the CPI(M) from 16 of the 17 panchayats in Nandigram. Trinamool captured 20 of 25 panchayat samitis and the zilla parishad of the district.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Trinamool for the first time dislodged CPI(M) district strongman Lakshman Seth from the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat (Suvendu Adhikary won) and also captured the Contai Lok Sabha constituency (Sisir Adhikary won). Trinamool won the assembly bypolls in 2009, including the one in Nandigram. “Trinamool took the lead in all Assembly segments in the Lok Sabha. And if not same, we will improve our margin,” said MP Suvendu Adhikary.
Trinamool district vice-president Chittaranjan Maity points out that the CPI(M)’s high-handedness and the mega industrial policy for the district which meant acquiring land eventually sealed its fate. Apart from the chemical hub in Nandigram, land for shipping industry in Mahishadal, a chemical zone in Nayachar, nuclear plant in Haripur and pharmaceutical industry in Sutahata meant acquisition of nearly 50,000 acres of land.
Former MLA and present Trinamool candidate from Kolaghat, Biplab Roychowdhury, pointed out that though land has been acquired for Kolaghat Thermal Power Project, no compensation has been given to the people. “Workers in the district are disgruntled with CITU and CPI(M),” he said.
For the CPI(M) Mahishadal, where Tamalika Seth is contesting, is an important seat and so are Haldia and Khejuria. They fear Trinamool has made deep inroads in these seats. People of Patashpur, Bhagwanpur and Moyna are angry that the government has done nothing in 35 years to save them from floods every monsoon.
“Terror, flood and lack of development will seal the CPI(M) fate here,” said Sisir Adhikary.