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CPI(M) divided in run-up to Haldia Municipality polls

Intense factionalism is rocking the CPI(M) unit of the East Midnapore district in the run-up to the prestigious polls.

kolkata Updated: Apr 27, 2007 20:29 IST

Intense factionalism is rocking the CPI(M) unit of the East Midnapore district in the run-up to the prestigious Haldia Municipality elections.

The CPI(M) is divided on the issue of the chairman candidate that they need to project for the Haldia Municipality polls – which Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said during his visit to Haldia on April 24 would be held sometime in the middle of July.

In fact, factionalism in the party have reached such a stage, that the Haldia CPI(M) mandarins requested Buddha to broker peace to ensure comfortably victory for the CPI(M) in the civic election.

Ever since its inception in 1997, Tamalika Panda Seth – the wife of CPI(M) MP and Haldia strongman Lakshman Seth – has been the chairman of the Haldia Municipality for two consecutive terms. And the incumbent group believes that Haldia Municipality under Tamalika Panda Seth has been a catalyst for the development of industries in Haldia.

Lakshman Seth, backed by State Health Minister and CPI(M) central committee member Surjya Kanta Mishra, want Tamalika to continue for the third term too. And in this bid, they are supported by such district CPI(M) strongmen like District Secretariat members Ashok Guria Pranab Das and Haldia CPI(M) Zonal Committee secretary Ashok Pattanaik.

But the other camp led by the loyalists of erstwhile CPI(M) District Secretary of undivided Midnapore Dipak Sarkar, now the CPI(M) secretary for West Midnapore, do not want Tamalika to continue as Haldia Municipality chairman.

Leading the rival brigade is CPI(M) District secretariat members Kanu Saha and Nirmal Jana. They argue that since Tamalika is also an MLA of Mahishadal, she should not hold two posts. Instead, she must focus on nurturing her Assembly constituency Mahishadal that the CPI(M) won from the Opposition after a long gap.

"The choice of candidate would be finalised by the party. But Tamalika and her councillors have done a good job in the municipality to provide Haldia with the right industrial infrastructure that is required for this town to develop as a first-rate industrial hub," said Lakshman Seth.

In the last ten years, the Haldia Municipality has acquired 550 acres of land for developing industrial infrastructure, build colonies for those displaced due to acquisition of land for industries, set up small townships within the Haldia town and provide space for big-time industries like Russian firm Ural India that is building heavy duty trucks and lorries over 100 acres of land.

"Haldia Municipality has been a transparent, dynamic and focused civic body working to provide better life to the people of this industrial town. Our infrastructural projects and civic works like good roads, adequate water supply and electricity have made the municipality an essential body along with the Haldia Development Authority to bring in new industries and develop this industrial town," said Tamalika Panda Seth.

"And nothing can defocus or derail the Haldia Municipality from its path. We will overcome all conspiracies to emerge victorious. People’s support will ensure that we win all the 26 seats of the municipality this time," added Tamalika Panda Seth.

This time, the Haldia Municipality, serving a population of 770,673 people has been upgraded from the C to B category municipality body. As a result, the number of wards has gone up from 25 in 2001 to 26 this year. In 1997, the CPI(M) won 19 out of the 24 wards and in 2001, the CPI(M) won 25 out of the 25 wards at fray in the Haldia Municipality elections.

"This time too, we want to rout the Opposition by bagging all the 26 wards in the civic election. Last time the Opposition contested 22 seats and in many wards groupism led to putting up more than one candidate against the CPI(M). We expect a similar situation to happen this time," said Ashok Pattanaik.

Indeed, the Trinamool Congress bandwagon led by their Haldia leader Tushar Mondol is no match for Lakshman Seth’s team. The fact that Tushar and Trinamool District president Sisir Adhikari do not see eye to eye could again spell disaster for the party.