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    Fear rules Maoist strongholds in West Bengal

    Midnapore: Fear factor continues to loom large over significant parts of Maoist-affected areas of Bengal which polls in its final phase on May 10. Not just those opposing the Left Front, but the Left Front itself is under threat.

    Spirited TMC supporters went back from a Mamata Banerjee meeting in Jhargram amid red flags that dot the roads in the nerve centre of Bengal's Jungal Mahal politics. But barely 20 kilometres away in Bakshole village in Gopiballavpur, the razzmatazz has been completely missing. The village is home to slain PCPA leader Umakanta Mahato, the suspect in the Jnaneswari express sabotage case. His widow Sabita says even though party campaigners have stayed away for fear of a Maoist backlash, she continues to receive threat from the CPM.

    Sabita said,"This morning they threatened me that they would come back and kill my family after the May 13."

    The visible absence of election frenzy in Maoist pockets like these speaks for itself. While villagers allege constant intimidation from the joint forces and the CPM, the mainstream political parties are still finding it risky to undertake poll-related activities in these areas.

    Elsewhere in Nayagram constituency, the only visible signs of the upcoming polls are the security forces. The remote Nichu Patina village has been seemingly abandoned by parties. Earlier a CPM fortress, the village is now a Maoist stronghold.

    "The CPM doesn't have any presence here - no flags, no activities, no meetings or rallies," said Tushar Chowdhury, a resident of Nichu Patina

    The CPM has admitted its inability to even provide polling agents in many such areas.

    CPM West Midnapore unit Secretary Dipak Sarkar said, "This time we are trying to increase the number of polling agents and hope most of them will be covered. But 10-15 booths, we can't do anything."

    The Left claims success in cornering the Maoists. Yet in regions it still hasn't managed to reclaim, the party it seems is bracing up for an adverse result.