Electoral scene in Nandigram remains troubled for supporters

There are 1,95,187 voters for whom 244 booths have been set up for the fourth phase of elections on May 3, in Nandigram.

Kolkata: Though some voters do not appear
very happy with their Trinamool Congress MLA at Nandigram
which captured the headlines on March 14, 2007 for the police
firing that left 14 persons dead, the CPI does not look very
confident of changing the equation.

The Trinamool MLA Firoza Biwi`s son fell to police bullets
that triggered the anti-land acquistion movement in East
Midnapore district which marked the beginning of the Left
Front`s downslide in this constituency.

This Left bastion started to crumble after the state
government decided to acquire land for the chemical hub in
Nandigram I area which was protested by the locals backed by
Trinamool Congress under of the the banner Bhumi Uchhed
Protirodh Committee leading to anti-land acquisition movement.

In 2009, after the expulsion of CPI`s two time MLA Illias
Mahmmud Seikh from the assembly on charges of bribery, Firoza
Biwi won the by-election defeating her nearest rival
Paramananda Bharati by over 39,000 votes.

The Left Front has fielded Bharati for a second time, with
the contest being four corner.

"The Trinamool Congress has built only two roads, one from
Heria to Bidyapith and another from Chandipur to Nandigram.
Nobody is getting work in MNREGA. In the last two years
nothing has been done," Bharati told PTI.

"If there is a fair election then I shall certainly win,"
Bharati claimed.

Asked whether Left supporters were afraid of going to
booths and the party could not field election agents, a local
CPI(M) leader Naba Kumar Samanta said, "I still cannot go to
Nandigram. Some people might have returned, but they cannot
venture out of their houses to even go to the market."

He said though this would not be the situation on election
day when central forces would be about, "But what will happen
after the central forces leave? Our supporters have to remain
in Nandigram all the year round."

On the other hand, Abdul Diyan Sheikh whose son Imadul
also died in police firing raised questions about the ability
of the Trinamool Congress candidate.

"Our candidate can`t even raise her voice and speak about
our demands in the Assembly. What is the use of voting for
her?" he questioned.

"There are other people from the martyrs families who are
more efficient and competent than Firoza Biwi," Abdul who is
also the secretary of Nandigram-Khejuri Sahid Pariwar
Committee said.

"We had written to our leader (Mamata Banerjee) urging
her to replace the candidate, but our plea was not heard,"
Pulin Bihari Mondal, father of Pushpendu Mondal who was killed
in the firing, said.

"What is the point in voting her? I am yet to decide
whether I will go to the polling station or not," Mondal said.

Trinamool MP from Contai Sisir Adhikary, however, told
a news agency, "The decision for nominating Firoza Biwi was taken by
our leader Mamata Banerjee and she will win."

Asked whether there was internal conflict over the
nomination, Adhikary said, "This is false propaganda by the
Left to weaken us, but they will not succeed. We are going to
win by a record margin."

The Trinamool Congress district leadership also denied
that there was a rift among party supporters.

"Initially there were some grievances, but it has been
sorted out. We will defeat the CPI nominee and get more votes
than in the by-election," East Midnapore Zilla Saha
Sabadhipati Mahmud Hossain said.

Hossain said, "After we got the Zilla Parishad we
built 16 metal roads, five bridges and revised the BPL list
and gave jobs to at least 100 women under the Asha Prokolpo."

Asked about the allegations by the CPI that they could
neither campaign nor deploy polling agents out of fear,
Hossain was dismissive.

"People have left them and are not with them now. What
can we do? If they ask, we can lend our people," he said.
The erosion of the Left began since 2008 panchayat
elections when the Trinamool took control of all the 17 Gram

In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Trinamool Congress`
Subhendu Adhikary received 1.05 lakh votes against the Left`s
51,000 from the assembly segment.

Earlier, the Nandigram Assembly Constituency which has
17 Gram Panchayats - ten in Nandigram I and seven in Nandigram
II, elected Left candidates between 1982 and 2006 except in
the 1996 elections when Congress candidate Debisankar Panda
defeated CPI`s Sakti Bal by a margin of only 138 votes.

There are 1,95,187 voters for whom 244 booths have
been set up for the fourth phase of elections on May 3, in


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