CPM ally calls for fresh assembly polls in West Bengal

CPM ally calls for fresh assembly polls in West Bengal

Kolkata: The West Bengal Socialist Party (WBSP)—one of the smallest partners of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM-led coalition ruling West Bengal—wants the state government to be dissolved immediately because it had lost the people’s support, according to Kiranmoy Nanda, WBSP leader and the state’s minister for fisheries.

WBSP, which has four legislators, has said in a letter written to Left Front chairman Biman Bose on Wednesday that it was time to seek a fresh mandate from the people of West Bengal, Nanda said, speaking to the media at his office in Writers Building, the state secretariat.

Other coalition partners such as the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) said they too would internally discuss and soon reach a decision on whether the state government should be dissolved in the wake of successive poll setbacks and the ongoing political violence in the state.

Assembly elections in the state are due in the summer of 2011. In 2006, the Left Front, which has been ruling West Bengal since 1977, won 235 of the 294 assembly seats. Though its strength has since diminished, it still has an overwhelming majority in the state assembly.

However, cracks in the Left bastion started appearing since the panchayat or village council elections last year, when, at the height of the controversy over land acquisition in the state for industrial projects, the Trinamool Congress—the state’s main opposition party—made inroads into districts where it had almost no representation till then.

In the past one-and-a-half years, opposition parties have won almost all elections held in the state. The Trinamool Congress allied with the Congress party and they together won 26 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the April-May general election. On Tuesday, the Trinamool Congress-Congress combine claimed eight of the 10 assembly seats for which by-elections were held on Saturday.

CPI leader Manju Majumder said his party would weigh the option of asking the Left Front to face early polls at its state secretariat meeting on 14 November. “This is one of the key issues that we are going to discuss in the meeting," he said.

Kshiti Goswami, the state’s minister for public works and an RSP leader, said his party would ask for formal deliberation on dissolving the state government at the next Left Front meeting. “Before that we will discuss the issue internally," he added.

Some CPM leaders, too, might voice a similar view at the party’s state committee meeting to be held at the end of this month, according to a CPM leader, who did not want to be named. “Unless a new government is formed, it is impossible to stop the ongoing violence," he said. “We have already lost more than 150 party workers across the state (since the general election)."

Nanda’s letter to Bose, however, was criticized by all Left Front partners. “He should not have disclosed it to the media before discussing it in the Left Front," said Hafiz Alam Sairani, a leader of the Forward Bloc—an ally of the CPM. “At this hour of crisis, he (Nanda) should have been more cautious," said Manoj Bhattacharya, a leader of the RSP and a member of the Rajya Sabha.