The Maoist vote boycott call is not giving sleepless nights to Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.
“We are not worried about the Maoist call for vote boycott as locals want to oust the CPI(M) and will not listen to anybody who asks them not to cast their votes,” said Srikanta Mahato, Trinamool candidate from Salboni in West Midnapore. There are five seats in West Midnapore, four in Purulia and two in Bankura, where the banned outfit has significant presence and sometimes dictates terms.
Mahato is one of the Trinamool candidates, who according to the CPI(M), works in tandem with the rebels. In February, the Salboni police had arrested him on charges of Maoist links and he spent 13 days behind bars.
While the 2009 Lok Sabha elections witnessed a successful poll boycott at Lalgarh, it may not be the same, feel locals. Banerjee has pointed out several times that whenever the rebels call for vote boycott, the Left stands to benefit as only Opposition supporters respond. “I appeal to you not to call for vote boycott and help the CPI(M) this time,” Banerjee said during her rally in Lalgarh.
Chunibala Hansda, Jharkhand Party (Naren)’s sitting MLA from Binpur, who according to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee keeps close ties with Maoists and is contesting from that seat again, however, doubted the authenticity of the vote-boycott statement. “No one has barred us from campaigning and the rebels have not asked anybody to boycott polls,” Hansda told HT.
A former CPI(M) panchayat member of Binpur said the Maoists may have called for poll boycott but they have close ties with Trinamool leaders and will not enforce it. The Maoist statement issued by the Kolkata committee on Monday, differentiated between the Trinamool and the Congress-CPI(M) combine.
The rebels said Congress and CPI(M) candidates will be countered politically and militarily and other parties, including Trinamool, will be “exposed politically”.