Left Front concedes defeat in four districts since assuming power

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Kolkata, May 21 (UNI) Conceding four districts to the Opposition for the first time in three decades, the ruling Left Front today managed to maintain overall dominance in rural Bengal by winning Zilla Parishad in 13 of the 17 districts that went to Panchayat polls last week.

In what came as the poorest show since 1977, the Front licked dust in four districts, losing control over East Midnapore and South Twentyfour Parganas to the Trinamool Congress and North Dinajpur to Congress.

The Congress also retained its hold in Malda district.

Plagued by interanal squabbling and disunity, the Front, however, wrested power from the Congress in Murshidabad district in a cliff hanger and maintained its sway in 12 other districts, though just scraping through in a number of places.

With the partners fighting one another in most of the seats, the Front carved out victories in North Twentyfour Parganas, Howrah, West Midnapore, Hooghly, Nadia, Murshidabad, Bardhaman, Birbhum, Purulia, Bankura, South Dinajpur and Cooch Behar districts.

Led by the CPI(M), the Front had won in 15 of the 17 districts in the 2003 Panchayat election with Malda and Murshidabad, claimed by the Congress, being the only opposition fortes.

The resounding victory of the Trinamool Congress in East Midnapore was significant since a sizeable portion of the district turned to be a political hotbed over the issue of land acquisition in Nandigram.

The Front also received a jolt in Singur, the venue of the Tata Motors's small car factory, by losing seats to the Trinamool Congress, though maintaining an overall lead in Hooghly district.

For about one-and-a-half years, Nandigram remained a political hotbed as a violent movement against land acquisition continued to torment the CPI(M) support base in the area.

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