LF suffer setback in Panchayat polls in Kolkata

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Kolkata, May 22: Close on the heels of the jolt in Zilla Parishad election, the ruling Left Front in West Bengal today suffered an unprecedented setback in its long-held bastion losing six out of 17 districts to the Opposition in the Panchayat Samity polls.

While the CPI(M)-led Front managed to retain control over majority of the panchayat samities in ten districts, the Trinamool Congress made a heavy inroad in the rural belt snatching reins in five districts and the Congress in one.

The fate of one district--Malda--was hanging in balance as both the Congress and the Left Front ended up by winning seven panchayat samities each.

While the Front snatched Murshidabad district from the Congress, it retained control over majority of panchayat samities in Bankura, Purulia, Bardhaman, Hooghly, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, South Dinajpur, and Birbhum.

Emerging strong in rural Bengal as never before, the Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, captured East Midnapore, Nadia, North Twentyfour Parganas, South Twentyfour Parganas and Howrah while the Congress won in North Dinajpur.

In 2003, the Left Front almost had a complete sway maintaining control over the panchayat samities in one but all the 17 districts.

The Panchayat samity results, poorest for the Front in three decades, followed its debacle in four districts yesterday in zilla parishad election, though retaining overall dominance in rural Bengal.

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.

But it lost control over East Midnapore, South Twentyfour Parganas and North Dinajpur, largely due to the people's unrest over land acquisition for industry, while Malda remained in the grip of the Congress.

UNI

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