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Political parties gearing up for Assembly polls

By Staff
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New Delhi, Feb 26 (UNI) The Left Front appears to have stolen the march over its rivals in West Bengal as political parties gear up for the crucial assembly elections in the state as well in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam and the Union Territory of Pondicherry, which may have a bearing on the uneasy relationship between the UPA Government at the Centre and its Left allies.

Political observers say the contraditions between the Left parties and the Manmohan Singh Government on economic and foreign policy issues are bound to surface as the campaigning for the Assembly polls gains momentum.

Prime Minister Singh has admitted in as many words that he expected 'trouble' from the Left parties in the run up to the polls, the first such major electoral exercise being undertaken in the country after the UPA formed the government at the Centre in May 2004.

The Left parties are in a strong position in their citadels of West Bengal and Kerala and will go to any length to retain power for the seventh successive time in West Bengal and dislodge the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala.

The political situation is still fluid in Tamil Nadu with the two major Dravidian parties, the ruling AIADMK and the DMK, yet to firm up alliances. Same appears to be the situation in Assam.

Taking a lead in poll preparations in West Bengal, the Left Front has already announced its candidates for 290 out of a total of 294 constituencies leaving two each for the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Nationalist Congress Party.

Ms.Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has selected nominees for 51 seats keeping open doors for a late adjustment with the Congress, which is yet to declare names of party candidates.

In a bid to retain power for the seventh successive term, the CPI(M)-led Left Front dropped 64 sitting MLAs, including eight Ministers to induct a young band of 130 new aspirants in the list of nominees.

Out of 290 seats, the CPI(M) alone fielded candidates in 209 seats. Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee's proposed grand alliance of opposition, including the BJP, to end the 29-year-run of the coalition Front Government was spurned by the Congress.

More UNI Team RP RAI1053

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