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'It's a reply to Harmad torture'

Getting Even: Bullet and ballot spell doom for Marxists who left offices locked much before final results came in. B Vijay Murty reports.

india Updated: May 15, 2011 00:38 IST
B Vijay Murty

Dismayed faces of cadres, locked party offices, deserted streets and strewn party flags on the streets in their strongholds — that summed up the disaster that hit the Marxists in their bastion of Jangalmahal, an area dominated by the banned rebel outfit, CPI (Maoists).

While the defeated Marxists blamed the armed Maoist rebels for the upset, jubilant Trinamool supporters attributed the victory to the end of people’s tolerance against the alleged atrocities committed by the Marxists . Jangalmahal was a red bastion but Mamata’s magic turned half of the area green.

The Trinamool-Congress alliance bagged seven seats, of which Trinamool alone got six, out of a total 14 seats in Jangalmahal that fall under West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts. This has increased the expectations of the common man in Jangalmahal who would like peace to return in the region. They were frightened not only of the Maoists but also of harmads — armed cadres allegedly owing allegiance to CPI(M).

The entry of harmads in several places in the middle of last year to recapture areas, especially in West Midnapore district, has severely affected CPI(M) in this zone this election — admitted a section of party leadership in the region.

The Netai carnage too turnedthethe hearts and minds of common people against CPI(M). At the same time, the backwardness and underdevelopment, which prevail in the region for decades, cost the Left Front dear.

The Left bagged 12 out of total 14 seats in assembly election 2006. Even in the 2009 parliamentary election, most assembly segments in Jangalmahal did not change the allegiance from left. At that time, the opposition got the lead only in four assembly segments — three from Purulia and one from West Midnapore districts.

This time, the Left has faced the most resentmetn in West Midnapore, where it lost five of seven seats, which include Jhargram constituency. Lalgarh falls under this seat.

Three out of the four seats in the red corridor of Jangalmahal — Jhargram — were bagged by Trinamool. The Marxists, who earlier held three of the four seats, had to be content with the Binpur seat. “It’s a fitting reply to the Harmad atrocities on the innocent, unarmed peasants and underprivileged people in the region,” said Trinamool West Midnapore district general secretary Ramesh Sarkar.

With his face smeared with green abir and receiving accolades for managing the show well in the Marxists’ bastion, Sarkar pointed out that the victory was not going to their heads and there will be no revengeful act. CPI(M) supporters who held their nerves outside the counting centre at Jhargram Raj College till noon started vanishing as results on television set up at their camps showed a complete rout of their party across the state.

By afternoon, the Trinamool supporters were seen all around zooming on their bikes and cars waving party flags and playing green Holi.

HT tried contacting the CPI(M) leaders, but none were willing to speak. Local committee members from Jamboni, Gopiballabhpur and other constituencies said that it were the bullets, not the ballots that led to their defeat. Official figures reveal that in all 369 people have died in Jangalmahal in the last two years, more than 200 of them Marxists. The first class killing occurred in January 2009 when armed Maoists entered the area and began a proletarian war against the Marxists.

The CPI(M) West Midnapore district committee member Ravi Sarkar had conceded that they were unable to reach out to their voters in several villages of the four assembly segments.

“They grabbed my land, killed my father, who was a freedom fighter, and forced me lead a vagabond’s life,” said Amitangshu Sengupta, 66, a frail diehard Trinamool supporter, while selling his party mouthpiece, the tabloid Jago Bangla. “I generally sold 200 copies in a week. Today, I have exhausted all the 200 copies I had and there is demand for more,” he said.