East Midnapore,where Bengal witnessed its first electoral shift in favour of the Trinamool Congress after years of Left rule,will vote in the second phase of the panchayat elections along with Hooghly and Burdwan districts.
It was at Nandigram in East Midnapore that the then Left regimes plans to acquire land for a special economic zone (SEZ) triggered agitation spearheaded by Trinamool Congress,which resulted in the death of 14 farmers in police firing on March 14,2007.
The Trinamool rode on the anti-land acquisition protests and wrested the zilla parishad from the Left for the first time in 2008. Its sweep did not stop there. In 2009,it won both Lok Sabha seats; in 2011 it wrested all 16 Assembly seats.
This year,the TMC has won uncontested in 407 seats out of the total 4,000 seats.
However,this is also the district where the Trinamool has suffered reverses in the municipal polls,having lost the Haldia municipality to the CPM due to bitter infighting.
Significantly,the district has witnessed large-scale infighting in the ruling party this time. Veteran TMC leader and MP Sisir Adhikari said,East Midnapore is with the TMC and there is no existence of the CPM and Congress since the Nandigram movement. There is scope of infighting as several leaders of our party are in the fray as Independents. This has happened as many from the CPM have joined our party and they want to become candidates. These CPM people are now Independent candidates here.
Burdwan,the home turf of former industry minister Nirupam Sen,has been the stronghold of CPM for three decades. The Left won three seats in the 2009 parliamentary elections; the TMC romped home at 16 of the total 25 Assembly seats in 2011.
In 2008,the CPM swept the panchayat elections having won 207 of a total of 277 gram panchayat seats. TMC and Congress could jointly win only 70 seats. And of the 31 panchayat samiti seats,CPM won in 26 while the TMC had five in its kitty. CPM swept the zilla parishad,too.
However,in the 2013 panchayat elections,according to records,the Left parties have not fielded candidates in 310 seats and had to withdraw nominations from 734 seats.
Of the total 4,067 gram panchayat seats,TMC has won 1,044 uncontested. Similarly,of the total 779 panchayat samiti seats,the Left is contesting in 621 seats and of total 75 zilla parishad seats,the Left is in the fray in 73 seats.
CPM district secretary Amol Haldar said,Winning in Burdwan is an ego issue for the TMC. Even if they lose in all the districts,they have to win in Burdwan,as it has always remained the strongest base of the Left. Which is why they have unleashed unprecedented terror in the area.
The Hooghly district is believed to be the training centre for the CPMs armed cadres. The harmads were said to have been trained in Khanakul and Goghat from where they were sent to the camps of armed cadres in Junglemahal.
Hooghly is the home turf of seven-term CPM MP Anil Basu. CPM won one of the three seats in the 2009 parliamentary elections while TMC took away 16 of the 18 Assembly seats in 2011. In the 2008 panchayat elections,the TMC won 15 of the 16 seats.
But the party is said to have become unpopular, with farmers of Singur yet to get the possession of their land back after it was acquired by the previous Left Front regime for a Tata small car plant eight years ago.