Lap 2 in WB: Rivals pack ammo | india | Hindustan Times
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Lap 2 in WB: Rivals pack ammo

If the first round was advantage red, the second one is a tightrope, reports Arindam Sarkar.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 13:48 IST

This is no cakewalk for the Left. If the first round was advantage red, the second one is a tightrope.

The Opposition is expected to put up a spirited fight in pockets of Hooghly, East Midnapore, Howrah and Nadia districts. Hooghly has 19 seats.

Last time, the CPI-M pocketed 15 largely on the local industrial health. It was pink.

But this time, the shine is off the steel and concrete landscape.Most of the factories are shut and those still humming are gasping.

"The industrial belt covers a huge swathe. But most of them are in bad shape. So we expect to do well in the urban nodes. There's an anti-Left wave. However, it would have been better if the paramilitary forces had stayed on for a week after the polls. Because the Left might retaliate post-poll. But the presence of EC officials will make a difference," said Hooghly district Congress president Pritam Ghosh. The Congress expects to improve on its tally here.

But the Left has its citaldels. Arambagh, Goghat and Khanakhul in Hooghly are out of bounds for the Opposition. East Midnapore, say observers, will be interesting to watch.

In 2001, Trinamool Congress wrested seven out of the 16 seats. The Left had to eat a humble pie.

But with the mahajot (grand alliance) coming a cropper this time and some local Trinamool MLAs switching over to the Congress, Mamata's crew may have to slug it out.

Apparently, East Midnapore has been a traditional Congress bastion. In 1996, the undivided Congress won seven seats. In Nadia, the Left will gave to fend off a virulent attack by the Opposition, which will strive to retain its share.

In 2001, out of the 15 seats, the CPI(M) won nine, the RSP one, Trinamool three and the Congress two. But this time, the Opposition has the industry on its side.

The downed shutters will work in its favour. "The Left will be hard put to explain the closure of the Haringhata milk unit and several small-scale units. And with the Mahajot working here, we hope to fare well," said Nadia district Congress president Ajoy Dey.

It is a stalemate in Howrah. The Opposition hopes to pack a punch but the CPI-M rules out any such possibility.

In 2001, out of the 16 Assembly seats, the Left Front bagged 10, the Congress one and the Trinamool bagged five.

"Being close to Kolkata, Howrah is a major business centre. Moreover, it has a good transport system. Coupled with our green base in the countryside, it should not be difficult," said CPI-M district secretary Sridip Bhattacharya.