Thirty for five. Hold your breath, it's not an India-Pakistan cricket match score but the number of CPI(M) flags seen during a 30 minute-drive through five villages in the red bastion of Jangipara Assembly constituency on Wednesday, a month after the poll dates were announced.
Outscoring the Reds were Trinamool Congress flags on treetops, lampposts, windows and rooftops of areas such as Sitapur and Bahana as the car speeded through the dusty kutcha roads of Kotulpur, Jangipara, electoral constituency of higher education minister Sudarshan Roy Choudhury.
"It's amazing! No one could even have thought of displaying a Trinamool flag or taking the name of the party a couple of years ago!" said Amal Barik, a tea stall owner at Kotulpur bazaar, where the car stopped. The change has been fast.
In 2006, the CPI(M) clinched this seat by a whopping 28,000 votes. In the pre-2006 days, the CPI(M) used to win 70% of the gram panchayat and panchayat samiti seats, uncontested.
Even in 2008, the Opposition failed to field candidates and the CPI(M) won the panchayat samiti easily, winning 27 out of 30 seats. Of the 14-gram panchayat areas in Jangipara Assembly constituency, the CPI(M) won 11.
Things have changed now and the Trinamool's graph is on the rise and Jangipara has become one of the hotbeds of political violence in the state. In 2009, the change was somewhat noticeable with the Left getting 800 fewer votes than the Congress in Jangipara, Serampore.
Now, at Kotulpur, under pressure from local Trinamool leaders, eight out of 12 CPI(M) members of the gram panchayat have resigned in last one and half years, leaving the panchayat defunct. Trinamool had only two representatives.
"The Trinamool-Maoist liaison unlashed a reign of terror at some areas of Jangipara. However the people are with us and they will give a fitting reply," said Arup Basu Mallik, CPI(M) Jangipara zonal committee secretary.
Trinamool leaders, on the other hand, claim it to be the outcome of people's upsurge against the dictatorial rule of the Marxists. "We have cleared all the CPI(M) hooligans. But we never objected to a CPI(M) flag," said Sk Moinuddin, Trinamool leader from Jangipara, who has as many as 130 police cases against him.
"They are targeting all Trinamool supporters of the area in numerous police cases. We know the CPI(M) will be nonexistent here after May 13," said a young Trinamool leader.