Mamata, Congress breach Left citadel in Bengal
West Bengal's ruling Left Front seemed headed for serious reverses as the main opposition Trinamool Congress made spectacular gains, leading in 13 constituencies while its alliance partner Congress was ahead in five out of the 32 seats for which trends were available.kolkata Updated: May 16, 2009 12:14 IST
West Bengal's ruling Left Front seemed headed for serious reverses as the main opposition Trinamool Congress made spectacular gains, leading in 13 constituencies while its alliance partner Congress was ahead in five out of the 32 seats for which trends were available.
In all, the Congress-Trinamool alliance was ahead in 18 seats while the Left Front was ahead in 12.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the LF had won 35 seats, while the Congress and the Trinamool got six and one respectively.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also made a breakthrough, despite its erstwhile alliance partner Trinamool shifting allegiance to the Congress, by taking a lead in two northern West Bengal constituencies of Darjeeling and Alipurduar.
In Darjeeling, BJP heavyweight Jaswant Singh was leading by over 77,000 votes against his Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) rival Jibesh Sarkar. Singh is being supported by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, which is fighting for a separate Gorkhaland state in northern Bengal.
The BJP had won two seats in the state in 1999, but then it was in alliance with the Trinamool.
Among the Left Front partners, the CPI-M was leading in eight, and Forward Bloc and Communist Party of India (CPI) in two seats each.
Ruling the state without any break since 1977, the LF so far had its lowest tally in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections when it managed to bag 26 seats as opposed to 16 won by the undivided Congress.
However, this time the Left's haul of seats could be even below the 1984 figure, as per the trends available so far.
Among the prominent candidates in the lead were External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee from Jangipur, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee from her pocket borough of Kolkata South, CPI-M leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharya from Bankura and Gurudas Dasgupta of CPI from Ghatal.
The heavyweight candidates who have fallen behind include deputy leader of the CPI-M Mohammed Salim from Kolkata North, CPI-M nominee and former Asian Games double gold medal winning athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, former union minister and BJP candidate Satya Brata Mukehrjee (both from Krishnanagar).
The Trinamool candidates have also forged ahead in Tamluk - which includes the troubled zone of Nandigram - and Hooghly, which includes Singur. Both areas had seen violent protests over the LF government's bid to set up industrial units by acquiring farmland.