ADDING TO the prevailing uneasiness in the “electoral understanding” between the Congress and the Left Front, a new chapter seems to be opening up with the Left Front’s insistence on supporting the candidate of Jharkhand Party (Naren) instead of the Congress’s in Jhargram.
In fact, it was only a timely intervention by Congress president Adhir Chowdhury through an appeal to the Left to repay the party’s “generosity” which prevented an all-out attack at a public rally in the once left-wing extremism affected region.
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Subrata Bhattacharya, the CPM candidate, voiced his concern in clear terms. “Today, Surjya Kanta Mishra (CPM) has come out in support of Chunibala Hansda (JKP-N) in Jhargram. This is just not right,” he said, but was promptly interrupted by Chowdhury.
Chunibala, who similarly was the cause for the fallout between TMC and the now-convicted Maoist leader Chhatradhar Mahato, submitted her nomination after a rally with local CPM leaders. As a candidate of JKP-N, she had been a two-term MLA from Binpur before joining hands with the TMC in 2011. In that year’s Assembly elections, she finished second from the seat, behind CPM’s Dibakar Hansda.
It was Chunibala’s husband who founded the JKP-N, paving way for her entry in politics in 2000. The party, which claims of being the only “fully tribal” party, continues to enjoy the support of large portions of the tribal population in Jangalmahal, which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee repeatedly mentions in her speech to slam the 34-year Left rule and pronounce her own government’s achievements.
Boasting similar credentials as JKP-N, the Jharkhand Anushilan Party — which had in 2010 demanded that Jangalmahal be declared an autonomous area within West Bengal — has been at loggerheads with Chunibala.
This became more clear when it joined the Left-Congress alliance. At the rally, the party’s general secretary, Aditya Kishu, too, struck out at the CPM. “I find it shocking that senior leaders from the Left are coming to Jhargram and campaigning for someone else,” he said. Once again, Chowdhury stepped in, signalling Kishu to not vent any further.
Chowdhury, who in the past had expressed his ire against Left constituents filing nominations in north Bengal, particularly in his stronghold Murshidabad, remained relatively sedate.
On Sunday, he said, “As you know, the CPM and the Congress have an electoral alliance and seats have been divided. We got Jhargram and we are happy with it… we’re happy with our candidate. We have left it to the conscience of those we have allied with and hope they will repay our generosity in kind.”