March 14, 2009

About Cong. & Trinamool alliance

Left must strengthen alliance at grassroots: Buddhadeb

Kolkata, March 13: With Trinamool Congress and Congress allying for the Lok Sabhaelections in West Bengal, state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Friday called for strengthening Left Front unity at grassroots.

"We have seen such alliances in the past. To counter it, there is need to strengthen Left Front unity at grassroots. It is not enough to be united at the upper levels," the Chief Minister told a Left Front legislature party meeting. Bhattacharjee asked the legislators to increase their outreach and sensitise the people about the development work done by the Left Front government, especially for the minorities besides, the progress under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Replying a question by Brahmamoy Nanda of the Socialist Party, he admitted that rural electrification was yet to cover all villages in the state. Efforts, were being made to ensure that it was done at the earliest.

Bhattacharjee said the power shortage would be over once two units at Sagardighi generating station became operational. Earlier, the assembly was adjourned for the day after 15 obituary references. A minute's silence was also observed.

BJP fields candidate against former ally Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata, Mar 13: The BJP today fielded a candidate against Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, an erstwhile ally in the past Lok Sabha election in West Bengal. State BJP Mahila Morcha president Jyotsna Banerjee has been pitted against the TC chief in the prestigious Kolkata South constituency.
Former union minister Tapan Sikdar, who had rejoined the party last week in the presence of BJP & Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani, was renominated from Dum Dum constituency, which he had won twice in 1998 and 1999, a party release said.

Sikdar had lost the 2004 Lok Sabha election from the seat. BJP had earlier announced that its state president and former union minister Satyabrata Mukherjee would contest from Krishnangar in Nadia district.

SUCI with Trinamool, but will oppose Congress

Kolkata, March 13 : The Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) has joined hands with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal but that will not deter it from fielding candidates against the latter’s new ally, the Congress, in the Lok Sabha elections.

“We’ve decided to support the Trinamool but will field candidates against the Congress in nine Lok Sabha seats,” SUCI state secretary Probhas Ghosh told reporters here Friday. He said that SUCI would pit Tarun Mondal against Nemai Barman of the state’s ruling Left Front in the Jaynagar seat as part of the Trinamool-SUCI alliance.

Earlier, SUCI had threatened Trinamool that it would withdraw from the alliance if the latter tied up with the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming Lok Sabha elections. “Despite (the Trinamool’s tie-up with) the Congress, we’ve decided to go on with the alliance, keeping in mind the interests of common people in the state,” Ghosh added.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has appealed to the SUCI leadership not to field candidates against the Congress in West Bengal. The SUCI is a Leftist party but is opposed to the ruling LF.

West Bengal government gears up for auto components park

Kolkata: After the Singur jolt, the West Bengal government is slowly making arrangements to house the state’s first auto components park in Guptamoni in West Midnapore district. A special purpose vehicle (SPV), floated by the developers of the project, has now started buying land directly from land owners in Guptamoni, some 127 km from here, a top official of West Bengal Industrial Infrastructure Development Corp (WBIIDC) told mediapersons Friday.

“The project started around a year back. The SPV is now purchasing land directly for the project from the land owners,” the official said.It is a joint venture project by WBIIDC and Bengal SREI Infrastructure Development. WBIIDC is an organisation of the West Bengal government for development of trade, commerce and industries in the state.

Bengal SREI is a joint venture between West Bengal Industrial Development Corp (WBIDC) and SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd. WBIIDC and Bengal SREI would develop the infrastructure and then invite auto component manufacturers to set up manufacturing units over there. Asked when the project would be completed, the official said: “It is too premature to talk about it now. We are still purchasing land.” The park would be spread over 500 acres.

The state government suffered a huge setback when global auto major Tata Motors pulled its Nano car project out of the state due to violent protests by farmers, who alleged that their land had been taken by the state government forcibly. The protests were led by the state’s principal opposition party, the Trinamool Congress. At Rs.100,000 ($2,000) Nano has been advertised as the world’s cheapest car.

Tata Motors acquired 997.11 acres at Singur in Hooghly district to construct the Nano car factory in 2006, out of which 400 acres were earmarked for building auto ancillary units. “No auto component company has approached us yet. The project is still at a nascent stage and the economic condition worldwide is also not very conducive,” the official said.

Congress surrenders to Mamata on seat deal

KOLKATA: IT HAS happened the way it was scripted to happen. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee succeeded in arm twisting the Congress on seat sharing to seal the electoral deal at the level of the Congress High Command with the party’s high priestess Sonia Gandhi presiding over matters and conceding to the Bengal firebrand’s demand.

The seat sharing deal had to do with the Congress accepting 14 Lok Sabha seats and getting cut out of South Bengal a Trinamool base and Mamata’s party fighting in the lion’s share of seats at 27. One seat has gone to left ally SUCI.

It was obvious from the very beginning when the two parties were sparring over an electoral deal to stop division of anti-Left votes that the Congress would have to play second fiddle to the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and would have to accept the role of a junior ally. The fact remains that ever since Mamata left the Congress in 1997 and formed her own party, the Trinamool Congress has gone from strength to strength vis a vis the Congress and reduced the latter to sign board. It is only in recent years that the Congress has seen some revival in North Bengal districts. By accepting that the Congress will fight in 14 seats as against the Triamool’s 27, Sonia and the high command has tacitly admitted that the Left in Bengal can be taken on only with Mamata spearheading the fight.

The seat sharing arrangement was formally announced by Congress Working Committee member in-charge of West Bengal, K Keshav Rao.

That the seat sharing arrangement has not gone down well with a large section of the Congress was apparent. But no leader in Bengal has dared to voice dissent so far. The Congress had wanted a few seats in South Bengal which they did not get apart from the lower number of seats they are being allowed to contest. At one stage it asked for one seat in South Bengal but was denied it by Mamata. Besides the six seats that the Congress holds it will contest from Arambag, Jhargram, Bankura, Purulia, Burdwan-Durgapur, Bolpur and Jalpaiguri.

A section of Congress leaders were of the opinion that the party high command had been taken for a ride by Mamata when she was not in a position to do so. The Congress they felt was in a much better position in striking a better deal in terms of seats simply because Mamata cannot go back to the NDA fold for fear of losing minority votes which she cashed in on during the Panchayat polls. She had the choice of tying up with the Congress or going it alone. This is where the Congress should have pressed home its advantage. Instead it was Mamata being the only MP from Bengal from her party, who managed to turn the tables on Sonia. The leaders did admit that the slow pace of political equations working out in the rest of the country may have prompted Sonia to seal the deal with Mamata despite the advantages the Trinamool chief managed to reap. Some, state Congress leaders, among them Deepa Dasmunhsi wife of Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi felt that the Congress had surrendered to Mamata.
An elated Mamata addressing a press conference went on record stating that the seat-sharing arrangement was a fulfillment of the people’s aspirations. People, she is convinced, wanted the alliance where a united opposition could take on the CPI(M) led Left and oust it from Bengal.