Behrampore, 21 July
The fight in this district will be mainly between the Congress and the CPI-M, while the Trinamul Congress is going to be a fringe player at best, despite chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s keenness to break the fiefdom of Congress strongman and minister of state for railways, Adhir Chowdhury.
The Congress is, however, better placed than the CPI-M-led Left Front in the zilla parishad, gram panchayat and panchayat samiti in the district. Mr Chowdhury’s clout has grown considerably after he became a minister and the Congress is determined to cash in.
The Trinamul has been trying for the past two years to expand its base from south Bengal to north Bengal and chosen Murshidabad as the gateway to penetrate north Bengal. With that strategy in mind, it won over the Reginagar MLA Humayun Kabir, belonging to the Congress, and made him minister.
However, the gamble didn’t pay off since Mr Kabir was defeated in the Assembly bypoll. That dealt a blow to Trinamul hopes and the panchayat poll will indicate the influence that the ruling party has been able to establish over the district.
As many as 19,143 candidates are in the fray in 254 gram panchayats, 748 panchayat samities and the zilla parishad having 70 seats. The DM, Murshidabad, Mr Rajib Kumar, stated that the district will be covered by 3401 premises, 519 sectors and 4935 polling stations to be monitored by 26 block-level observers.
The SP, Murshidabad, Dr Humayun Kabir said, “A total of 93 companies of para-military forces have already reached the district and they will be deployed at highly sensitive booths. Around 80 per cent of the booths in Murshidabad are sensitive.” The state police will be backed by Central forces armed with non-lethal weapons like stun guns, sting grenades, anti-riot guns, etc to combat those trying to disrupt the poll process, the SP added.