Kolkata, Oct 2 (IANS) Billed as the last big fight ahead of next year’s assembly polls, the stakes are high for West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the “resurgent” opposition Left Front as also the BJP with people in four pockets of the state getting ready to exercise their franchise in civic elections on Sunday.
Statisticians might say the sample size is too small to gauge which way the mood would be blowing in the assembly polls, but each of the combatants have their own calculation as Asansol Municipal Corporation in Burdwan district, Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation close to Kolkata and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad encompassing rural areas in the plains of Darjeeling district go to the hustings.
Besides, elections are also being held in 16 wards of erstwhile Bally municipality which has now being amalgamated with the Howrah Municipal Corporation.
For Trinamool, the challenge is to keep its winning momentum going so as to add to its workers’ confidence as also those of the floating voters in the state that the party is on the right track to retain power next year.
It would also take the fizz out of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front cadres’ recent upbeat stance after their back-to-back aggressive agitations which have prompted political analysts to talk about a “resurgent Left”.
Having faced electoral ignominy over the past six years in a state where it ruled uninterruptedly for nearly three and half decades, the LF in recent months organised protest marches to the secretariat and the city police headquarters.
Both the programmes led to much bloodletting, with even its leaders sustaining injuries in a police baton charge, even as the cades fought pitched battles with the security personnel.
More than electoral victories, the LF want to use these polls as a litmus test on whether its new-found aggression was finding favour with the electorate. The polls would also be an indicator on whether the LF workers have now got over the demoralization that had set in their camp and are prepared to fight tooth and nail what they term the “muscle power” of the ruling party.
The LF feels a determined fight would galvanise their workers further in the run up to 2016.
The importance of Bidhannagar lies in the fact that the posh satellite town in Kolkata could be an indicator, however faint, of the thinking of the upper and upper middle classes regarding state politics.
None of the parties have left any stone unturned in the political battle for Bidhannagar. The Trinamool has fielded all its star campaigners sans Chief Minister and party chief Mamata Banerjee, even as it grapples with factionalism in one of its strongest bases.
The Left has nominated a high-profile mayoral candidate in reputed economist and former state finance minister Asim Dasgupta and joined hands with other parties and eminent citizens of the area to float a platform against the Trinamool’s “hooliganism”.
The 41-ward Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation in North 24 Parganas district has 185 candidates in the fray where an electorate in excess of 7.76 lakh will exercise their franchise in 437 polling booths.
But the Left’s main hopes of upsetting the Trinamool applecart centre around Siliguri, where it is hoping to capture the Mahakuma Parishad under the leadership of Ashok Bhattacharya. The senior CPI-M leader and former minister, who pulled off a surprising victory for the LF in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, is again leading the LF campaign.
In Asansol, the BJP is canvassing hard, as it endeavours to repeat its success in last year’s Lok Sabha election, when its candidate Babul Supriyo won.
Amid a perception that the BJP is losing steam after its spectacular performance in the general elections, due to intense factionalism, an alleged tilt towards the Trinamool and a flop show in the civic polls a few months back, it is the last chance for the party to prove that its last year’s showing was no flash-in-the pan and it would be a serious player next year.
In Bally, the deeply entrenched Trinamool is facing a strong challenge from the BJP in some of the wards, even as the LF – now organizationally much weaker in Howrah district – tries to make a comeback.