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Bishnupur by-poll may hold key to LS results

It is an acid test for both the ruling CPM as well as the Opposition as the Bishnupur West Assembly seat goes to the polls today.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata |
February 26, 2009 3:02:00 am

Straw in the wind: CPM and Trinamool locked in a direct fight as Cong withdraws

It is an acid test for both the ruling CPM as well as the Opposition as the Bishnupur West Assembly seat goes to the polls today.

For the CPM,retaining the seat would mean it has been able to turn the tide that saw it defeated in the recent panchayat polls. For the Opposition Trinamool-Congress combine,it is going to be a test case that would indicate if the unity formula would work for them and could be taken forward as an alliance between the two parties before the Lok Sabha polls.

In Thursday’s by-election,around 1.9 lakh voters will decide the fate of Trinamool Congress candidate Madan Mitra who is locked in a direct contest against CPM’s Iskandar Hussain in the by-poll necessitated by the death of CPM MLA Rathin Sarkar a few months ago.

Recently,the Congress withdrew its candidate Mumtazuddin Gazi in favour of Mitra,signaling its seriousness to ensure that anti-CPM votes do not split.

Stakes are highest for the CPM this time around. In 2006,Sarkar won the seat with 60,913 votes,which is 44.37 per cent of the total votes polled. But Trinamol’s Mitra trailed him closely with 56,653 votes,41.26 per cent of the total votes polled. Gazi had got 14,925 votes,which is 10.87 per cent of the total votes polled. Now with the Trinamool and the Congress teaming up in Bishnupur,the CPM has much to worry about.

The by-poll’s outcome is crucial to the fate of a possible alliance between the Trinamool and the Congress,which has of late fallen into uncertainty.

A war of words is still going on between senior Congress and Trinamool leaders over state Congress chief Pranab Mukherjee’s alleged hobnobbing with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and other CPM stalwarts while taking part in inauguration ceremonies of a string of projects in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

“I am hopeful of winning this time. It is simple mathematics. If I can pool the anti-CPM votes,I will come out with flying colours. Secondly,the Opposition did very well in the panchayat polls,winning 13 of the 14 gram panchayats in Bishnupur,” said Mitra.

However,the Trinamool candidate’s prospects can suffer if the unity between his party and the Congress fails to work at the grassroots level. Hussain also has an advantage as Mitra has spent much of his time in Kolkata since last elections.

“I know everyone here since I am a physician. Moreover,we are a party for development and not anti-development like the Opposition. I believe people will vote for us,” said Hussain.

The by-poll outcome will also be a pointer to whether the ruling party has recovered the lost ground after the issue of land-acquisition for industry touched off a storm across rural Bengal.

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