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West Bengal: Missing as CPM leaders, three resurface as TMC members

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

Three Naxalbari Gram Panchayat members of the CPI-M, who were missing for the past few days, joined the Trinamool Congress on Wednesday, reducing the CPI-M-run panchayat board to a minority there.

The Trinamul Congress has said it will now introduce a no-confidence motion against the board there. The development comes days after former CPI-M MLA and a member of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (SMP) Choton Kisku switched allegiance and joined hands with the ruling party.

All these developments come amid allegations that the Trinamul Congress had been offering money to SMP board members and intimidating them. Narayan Kheria, Rajib Oraon and Sandhya Sarkar Chettri were missing for the past few days, while missing diaries had been filed at the Naxalbari Police Station.

CPI-M leaders had apprehended that the trio was kept in confinement so as to persuade them to join the ruling party. The number of CPI-M members in the 26-seat gram panchayat has now gone down to 12 from 15, while the figures for the Trinamul Congress went up to 13 from 10.

The BJP has one member in the panchayat. “We have secured a majority in the board. We will bring in a no-trust motion against the panchayat board,” Opposition leader at the SMP Kajal Ghosh said. Mr Ghosh, however, denied his party used money, power or threats. “Elected representatives from different political parties have joined us for development,” he said.

Darjeeling district Trinamul Congress president and state tourism minister Gautam Deb handed over party flags to them at a programme at Naxalbari. CPI-M area committee leader of Hatighisa, Madhab Sarkar, said the trio was forced to join the Trinamul camp.

CPI-M district secretariat member and district CITU president Gautam Ghosh said the ruling party will not be able to bring in the no-confidence motion. “Some Trinamul Congress members will support us, as that party is grappling with an internal feud.

They would not be able to bring in any such motion. We have adequate numbers,” he claimed. Given the equation at the gram panchayat now, political analysts said both the Left Front and the Trinamul camps will now try to get support from the lone BJP candidate.

“It is obvious that both the parties need support during the motion at this stage. So the role of the BJP candidate would be crucial,” an analyst said. Mr Ghosh said people have not liked the “unethical moves” of the ruling party. “Democracy is under threat.

The ruling party has been trying to wrest control of the elected bodies like municipalities and panchayats which were originally won by either the Left or other Opposition parties. But people do not like such unethical and unconstitutional moves, as they leave the entire election process a farce,” he said. Protesting such a practice, sit-ins were staged at tea gardens of the Terai and other areas yesterday.

A section of the Left leaders said it was extremely difficult for them to cope with Triinamul’s “repressive measures” to capture the elected bodies forcibly.

Left parties have said they would hold a protest rally at Naxalbari on 8 May to highlight this trend of the ruling party, and against undemocratic moves to grab elected bodies.