Cong-Left alliance faces unity question in Jhargram

Cong-Left alliance faces unity question in Jhargram

Cong-Left alliance faces unity question in Jhargram

The Left and the Congress which struck a pre-poll pact before the Assembly elections in West Bengal seem to have reached an impasse at Jhargram.

The two parties might not be rubbing shoulders at one of the most crucial seats in Jungle Mahal. Despite their mutual desire to depose Trinamool Congress, the allies are at loggerheads at this tree-laden town. While Congress has fielded Subrata Bhattacharya, a long-time party loyalist, as part of its arrangement with the CPM, the Left is siding with Chunibala Hansda, leader of Jharkhand Party (Naren).

What was hush-hush till a few days back is now public knowledge with both candidates claiming to represent the “Left, democratic coalition”. Bhattacharya and Chunibala are campaigning on this plank and their posters claim the same in bold letters.

Bhattacharya, however, has lately started to realise his chances might get clamped after a talk with local CPM leaders, whom he found evasive.

“My party has fielded me from this constituency and I’ll play my part. People are ready to vote against the Trinamool candidate and I’ve as much chance of winning as anybody else,” he said.

Sources close to him admitted that Bhattacharya has been seething and is aware that his chances are slim. Trinamool has fielded sitting MLA Subrata Hansda, a well-known physician.

“The dice is loaded against Bhattacharya because he’s not a tribal in a constituency where majority voters are Santhals. His being an affluent Brahmin candidate will go against him.

If CPM actually put its strength behind him as promised, he had a fighting chance. Now his winning seems difficult,” admitted a person involved with Bhattacharya’s campaign.

On the other hand, Chunibala’s chances are better. Her deceased husband, Naren, was a prominent tribal leader from Jungle Mahal. Beginning as a leader of Jharkhand Party, which championed the cause of a separate Jharkhand since 1949, Naren floated Jharkhand Party (Naren), which has since become the voice of the local tribal populace. Naren passed away a few years back, passing on the leader’s mantle to his wife. Chunibala, who won the Binpur Assembly seat in 2006, lost it to Dibakar Hansda of CPM in 2011.

While she is contesting from Jhargram this time, she has fielded her daughter Birbaha, a popular Santhali film actor, from her old seat. “There are hints to suggest local tribals are unhappy with Mamata Banerjee and are planning to vote against Trinamool. This caught our attention and we had to make other plans,” said a CPM district committee member, not willing to be named.

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