Kolkata, May 3: Major Left Front partners like the RSP and the Forward Bloc have charged "Big Brother" CPI(M) with resorting to large-scale violence to defeat their nominees for the rural polls scheduled to be held in the second week of this month.
Despite an electoral understanding with the CPI, the Marxists have failed to reach an accord on seat-sharing with the RSP and the Forward Bloc in extensive areas of Bengal.
Already a number of pre-poll clashes have taken place between the CPI(M) workers on the one hand and the RSP and Forward Bloc supporters on the other in districts like South 24 Parganas, Hooghly and Howrah. Neither of the concerned left parties has ruled out escalation of violence as the dates for the panchayat elections draw near.
The most serious accusation against the ruling Marxists has come from senior RSP leader and PWD minister Kshiti Goswami who has described the CPI(M) as a "fascist party."
According to him, the CPI(M) workers are not only launching frequent attacks on RSP supporters at Basanti and Canning areas in South 24 Parganas and some places in Hooghly, but have also forced many RSP candidates to withdraw their nomination papers at gunpoint.
The PWD minister has gone to the extent of urging his party workers to "physically resist the CPI(M)'s terror tactic in the manner resorted to by the people of Nandigram." Goswami considers the Marxists the main rival in the RSP's strongholds. "This is an open secret. We have to protect our support bases if our party has to enjoy respect in the Left Front," he observed.
A similar anti-CPI(M) tirade could be discerned from the contention of state Forward Bloc secretary Ashok Ghosh who admitted on Wednesday having fielded dummy candidates against CPI(M) nominees in many areas following breakdown of talks on seat adjustments. He pointed out that Forward Bloc candidates have been forced to withdraw their nomination papers at Goghat in Hooghly district in the wake of open threats from the district CPI(M) leadership. "This shameful even is the first of its kind in the three decades of Left Front rule in Bengal," he alleged.
The state CPI(M) is quite aware of the serious political ramifications of lack of unity among the Left Front partners. Talking about the rising political tension in rural areas in the absence of left unity, housing minister Gautam Deb told a public rally at Jamalpur in Burdwan district on Wednesday that his party was somewhat uncertain about the outcome of panchayat elections this time. According to a modest estimate, the three Left Front partners have fielded candidates against one another in over five thousand seats.
The Centre, in the meanwhile, has decided to keep a close watch on the law and order situation in rural Bengal in the wake of inter-party clashes and growing political tension. Nandigram, in particular, has been engaging the Centre's attention after Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi expressed concern over the recent violent incidents at a public rally in Malda. Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi has also submitted a detailed report on the prevailing situation in the state to union home minister Shivraj Patil.
Opposition parties like Trinamul Congress, Congress and the BJP have already submitted memorandums to the governor, complaining about the "CPI(M)'s terror and highhandedness" and seeking his intervention to ensure a free and fair panchayat election. The state administration has decided to deploy homeguards to maintain peace and order during the election. But the opposition parties rightly feel that the election will be reduced to a farce in the absence of armed policemen and central forces at the polling booths. By Gautam Ghosh