Left rebels return to the fold

Left rebels return to the fold

Ghar wapsi can be a complicated thing. For the Left in Birbhum district of Bengal, it means a chance to fight the ruling TMC, both electorally and physically.

With hundreds of prodigal supporters returning to its fold after almost four years, the Left feels emboldened and hopes to put up a fight.

When Mamata Banerjee came to power in 2011 after toppling a 34-year-long Left regime, thousands of Left supporters joined the ranks of a burgeoning BJP. Even though Mamata came in with the slogan of “badla noi, badal chai (no revenge, only change)”, bloodbath across Birbhum became a regular feature that continues to dominate the headlines.

With the BJP making enough noise against Trinamool since 2012, which heightened in the run up to the 2014 General Elections, Left deserters found more hope and filled up the rank and file of the saffron party. Ever since the Left struck a coalition with Congress earlier this year, many of those who deserted the Left are now returning. Sheikh Afsar Ali from Makda, one such deserter, said: “We were just looking for shelter. Without political affiliation, we would have been killed by Trinamool supporters.”

Afsar’s statement is representative of most villagers from the district, who were with the Left till its ouster. Sheikh Zamirul, who has been living at Makda since 2012, said Trinamool supporters have attacked them since 2011, which reached a crescendo before the 2013 Panchayat polls. “We were forced to leave our homes. We’re from places like Bahiri, Papuri, Khujhutipara and Chaumondalpur but we have been living in Makda to save ourselves,” he said, echoing voices of many others.

Congress supporter Sheikh Giar Ali from Chaumondalpur faced the same predicament and joined the BJP in 2012. Sheikh Saleh Noor, yet another Chaumondalpur resident, also fled home and found shelter under the saffron banner. “They would attack our villages, barge into our homes at night and dishonour our women,” he said.

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