KOLKATA: Strategies are finalised and the campaigns have started gaining momentum for the all-important elections to 81 civic bodies, including Kolkata Corporation, in West Bengal now scheduled to be held on May 30. Political observers here feel that the outcome of the electoral battle will indicate who will govern the State next. No doubt, the public mood is now against the CPI(M) in particular and the Left Front in general following a series of administrative failures in tackling situation in the Maoist influenced Jangal Mahal in Midnapore, price rise of essentials and the recent faux pas in dousing fire at Park Street’s Stephen Court which claimed 43 precious young lives. If one goes by public mood, there is hardly any doubt that the elections to the civic bodies will handover another humiliating defeat to the ruling Left.
In fact, the ruling Left Front has not recorded any significant victory in electoral battles since the panchayat elections in 2008. The CPI(M) and its Left allies have done poorly in the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 by winning only 15 seats out of 42 in the state. In the Lok Sabha election, 2009 the Left Front got 43.3 per cent of the votes, 7.5 per cent less than 2004. Among the Left parties, the CPM was the biggest loser in the general election-its vote share fell 5.5 per cent from 2004 to 33 per cent. The CPM’s internal calculations show that in the general election, the Left Front trailed in as many as 195 of the 294 Assembly segments in the State, whereas in the 2006 Assembly elections the Left parties had won 235 seats. The situation for the Left has been worsened further when the CPM, and its allies won only 3 of the 16 municipalities where elections were held on June 28, 2009. Five years ago, the Left Front had won 10 of these 16 municipalities; the Congress had won four and the Trinamool Congress just one. No doubt, the results are an indication that the Left Front didn’t enjoy popular support in the State any more.
Under the present circumstances the Left Front and especially the CPI (M) is very much concerned with the election of Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Because an analysis of the voting pattern in the last parliamentary elections showed that the Opposition enjoyed a lead in at least 121 of the 141 corporation wards. If this trend translates into votes in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) elections, the Opposition can expect to take charge of the city from 2010. In the present KMC House the Left Front has 75 Councillors and the combined Opposition has 66.
In the 81 civic bodies in the State where polling will be held on May 30, the Left Front now controlling 54, Congress 17 and Trinamool Congress controls 14. It seems the picture may be totally different after the May 30 elections. This is because most areas where the party had earlier enjoyed undisputed support of the people are now their loosing battle grounds. For instance, there are 20 municipalities in the State’s industrial belt in North 24 Parganas. Of them, 19 civic bodies are under the control of the CPI(M) since 2005 elections. However, in this Red Fort of the CPI(M) , the party had lost all the five Lok Sabha seats in this district in the last parliamentary elections. In Kolkata, situation is no different either. In the last KMC elections, the CPI(M) candidate Kanailal Ganguly had received 82 per cent of the total votes polled and won in ward number one. However, in the last Lok Sabha elections, the CPI(M) candidate Mohammad Salim bagged 40 per cent votes only in this ward in North Kolkata.
Majority of the voters in the State are now determined to bring a change of guards in public institutions. They have identified the CPI(M) as the main culprit for their sufferings and want to teach the party a lesson. There is no reason that the Left will hold its supremacy once again in the ensuing elections to civic bodies.