Riding on the strong anti-Left sentiment the combined opposition of TMC and Congress won 13 out of 16 municipalities in the state as results were declared today. The election in these 16 municipalities was held on June 28. The Left suffered yet another defeat in West Bengal within one and half months of the Lok Sabha election.
Buoyant with the election verdict the opposition leader Mamata Banerjee said at Delhi today that “the CPI(M) should draw lesson from this verdict and step down from power.” Echoing his party leader’s voice, the opposition leader in the state legislative assembly and the TMC spokesman Partha Chatterjee said at Kolkata that the chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should own up the moral responsibility of the electoral defeat and resign.
Demoralised by the back to back electoral defeats, the state CPIM leaders were not forthcoming with their reaction. Only, Subhas Chakrabarty, a minister of the present Left Front government, said that “the people have punished us for our misdeeds.”
Viewed as a part of the build up to the coming state assembly election in 2011, this municipal election result will definitely consolidate the opposition and demoralise the ruling Left. Prior to the assembly election in May 2001, next year, around this time, another 80 municipalities including Kolkata Corporation will go to poll. Thus the Left will get hardly any respite to reorganise their rank and file and meet the challenge.
The result of municipal election clearly shows that the anti-Left sentiment which was evident during the general election is still very much active in the state. Of the 16 municipalities which went to poll on June 28, the Left got only three, and the opposition got 13. In previous term the Left had control over 10 out of 16 municipalities. The most significant victory of the opposition took place in Asansol Corporation, which falls within Burdwan district.
So far the district of Burdawn was unaffected by growing the anti-Left sentiment and even during the general election the Left could retain all three Lok Sabha seats there. But this time the fall of Asansol Corporation to the opposition indicates that the anti-Left sentiment is fast spreading into other parts of the state.
Of the 13 municipalities won by the opposition, 9 are in the region which became ‘killing field’ for the Left in Lok Sabha election.
The opposition won all but one municipality in this region, while the Left barley managed to scrape through in Rajarhat-Gopalpur municipality.
Simultaneous election was also held for Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad, a truncated 3-tier panchayat administration in Darjeeling district, where other three sub-divisions--Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong—were brought under the Gorkha Hill Council. Though the Left could retain the Mahakuma Parishad with a slender margin, it fared poorly in the lower tiers, i.e., at panchayat samiti and gram panchayat level.
All these indicate to one point that the Left support base is steadily weakening and giving way to the sustained opposition pressure. Sensing the moment, Mamata Banerjee said today that “despite the presence of the CPI(M) cadres, the people have once again supported us within a short period of the Lok Sabha election.”
She had requested the Prime Minister to take steps to unearth illegal weapons in the state. She reminded all that a huge cache of firearms and bullets and other lethal weapons were unearthed from a place in Rajarhat on the eve of the municipal poll.