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Congress blames Left Front ‘ego, arrogance’ for SMC poll debacle

The much-hyped Siliguri model, an informal understanding between the two camps, came to the surface for the first time here after the 2009 civic body elections when it prevented the Trinamul Congress from forming an elected board jointly with the Congress. On the other hand, Left leaders said the Congress should refrain from playing a blame game now.

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

Days after the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) election results, the Congress today launched an unprecedented attack on the Left Front for the earlier SMC board’s “dismal performance.” Using the words “ego” and “arrogance,” Darjeeling district Congress (Plains) president Sankar Malakar said the Left had betrayed the Siliguri residents.

The Left and the Congress failed to reach consensus on a seat-sharing strategy before the civic body elections here. The Left, which had contested in 42 of the 47 wards, had left four wards for the Congress, as it had won the seats there in the last civic body polls in 2015. Congress, on the other hand, fielded candidates in 34 wards this election.

The CPI-M managed to win only four seats (23.24 percent votes), while the Congress barely pocketed one ward (5.32 percent), failing to retain three other wards which the party had won in 2015. “We could have performed well had the seat adjustment plan with the Left worked. The results show people could not keep faith in us. The Congress and the Left had been preparing the stage to contest jointly against the Trinamul Congress and the BJP for the past two years, holding eight rounds of meetings. But we have seen that the Left camp abruptly declared the names of their candidates, following the announcement of the poll date. We failed to keep the message we had given to the people through this move, resulting in people losing faith in us. People did not accept both the Congress and the Left. Their (Left) ego and arrogance are responsible for the disastrous results. They betrayed the people,” Mr Malakar said today.

Lambasting Left leaders, Mr Malakar said there was lack of seriousness on the seat-sharing adjustment talk. “After the 2016 Assembly elections, both the Congress and Left failed to prove their acceptance to the people. The seat-sharing strategy had worked in 2016, but we had fought separately in the 2018 rural polls in the state, and in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections the formula was not in place, but it was there again in the 2021Assembly elections. People did not accept such child’s play in the civic body polls. They were confused. They have not accepted us as an alternative to the Trinamul Congress, despite a lot of grievances and allegations against the ruling party,” he said.

“The Left number has dropped to four from 23. The face of the Siliguri model has been defeated. Had we contested in that ward (6) with full strength, our candidate would have emerged victorious,” Mr Malakar added. Mr Malakar was referring to the defeat of former Siliguri mayor Asok Bhttacahrya in ward 6. Mr Bhattacharya is considered as the chief architect in bringing the Left and the Congress together, ensuring victories in the three-tier rural polls in 2015 and the Assembly elections in 2016.

The much-hyped Siliguri model, an informal understanding between the two camps, came to the surface for the first time here after the 2009 civic body elections when it prevented the Trinamul Congress from forming an elected board jointly with the Congress. On the other hand, Left leaders said the Congress should refrain from playing a blame game now.

“There was no lack of effort on our part to defeat the Trinamul Congress and the BJP. We stayed away from fielding candidates in four wards the Congress had won in the previous polls, but they had fielded candidates in many wards where we had secured victory. “However, they had failed to win except in ward 16. We distributed leaflets, held marches in support of Congress candidates. The results are unexpected to us and we should critically analyse the reason for such a disaster rather than blaming each other. It may be his personal opinion, but we will not launch any counter attack. We are hopeful that CPI-M and Congress councillors will work jointly in the interest of the people,” said district Left Front convener Jibesh Sarkar.