Battlelines drawn for crucial Bengal Assembly poll

The Left Front is facing the toughest test-ever challenge in its 35-year rule while Mamata Banerjee`s Trinamool Congress in alliance with Congress is pulling out all stops to bring about `paribartan`.

Kolkata: Sailing against a strong wind of
change, the Left Front is facing the toughest test-ever
challenge in its 35-year rule while Mamata Banerjee`s
Trinamool Congress in alliance with Congress and other fringe
players is pulling out all stops to bring about `paribartan`
or change in the West Bengal Assembly polls.

The elections would be held in six phases with the first
phase polling scheduled for April 18 in 54 constituencies in
north Bengal. The sixth and the last phase is slated for May
10.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is leading
the Left Front charge, and the Trinamool supremo have already
hit the campaign trail either addressing meetings or
participating in marches.
Bhattacharjee is seeking re-election from Jadavpur
constituency on the southern fringe of the city while
Banerjee, currently a member of the Lok Sabha from Kolkata
South, is not contesting the polls.

For the ruling Left Front, it is a make-or-break election
having tasted defeats in successive elections through
panchayat, Lok Sabha and municipal elections since 2008.

Battling against anti-incumbency, the CPI-M leadership
admitted that it was up against a strong challenge, but it
could still bounce back.

"Trinamool-Congress alliance has bagged 11 lakh more
votes than the LF in the last Lok Sabha polls, which can be
made up if the Front managed to garner additional 10 votes in
each of the 60,000 booths across the state," CPI-M central
committee member and housing minister Gautam Deb said.
Riding on an apparent pro-change wave, Trinamool is
confident of dethroning the Left.

"There will be polarisation between the Left Front and
our alliance and there will be no other force. The people will
vote for a change to end the 35-year `misrule` of the
CPI(M)-led government," Banerjee has said.

Undeterred by Trinamool`s no-holds-barred thrust for
taking over the Writers` Buildings, Bhattacharjee has launched
a strong bid to return to power for the eight time in a row,
though admitting the mistakes his party made.

"We have won election seven times we will win for the
eight time too," he told a public meeting in his constituency
Jadavpur recently.

"We have learnt lessons from our defeat in the last Lok
Sabha poll and have taken up a rectification drive," he
stated.

Putting up a brave face about the Trinamool-Congress
alliance, he remarked, "Politics is not an arithmetic. Two
and two may be a zero in politics."

Of the 294 seats in the state Assembly, Trinamool
Congress alone has fielded candidates in 226 seats, leaving 65
for its ally Congress, two to Socialist Unity Centre of India
(SUCI-Communist) and one to NCP.

The Left Front has put up nominees in all the seats.

BJP, which did not have any member in the outgoing
Assembly, has announced candidates in 280 seats.

In a minor jolt to the opposition alliance, Trinamool`s
ally SUCI(C) has announced that it would field candidates in
29 seats against Congress triggering the possibility of
division of opposition votes.

This had irked the Congress with state party president
Manas Bhuniya saying it was mysterious that an ally of
Trinamool has fielded nominees against us.

PTI

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