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WB: Excitement mounts as hour of reckoning nears

News18

Updated: May 12, 2011, 9:04 PM IST
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WB: Excitement mounts as hour of reckoning nears
O'Brian said undoubtedly Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress would be the toast of the international media.

Kolkata: The international media and the national press have arrived here in strength to cover the outcome of the toughest-ever electoral battle in West Bengal as excitement among people for Friday's all-important results is palpable throughout the state.

With Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress throwing a big challenge to the world's oldest democratically elected government and widely tipped to win, media houses have geared up to cover the possible big news.

The Trinamool leader's Harish Chatterjee Street residence, which has been on the international media map ever since the 2009 Lok Sabha election results gave a jolt to the Left parties, is flooded with requests from foreign journalists for interviews.

All of them want exclusive interviews with 'Didi'.

However, busy as she will be, she may just find time to meet all of them together," Trinamool vice-president Derek O'Brian told PTI.

O'Brian said undoubtedly Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress would be the toast of the international media.

As the media gathered on Thursday in front of her residence, the Trinamool Congress chief looked a picture of confidence and poise wearing a smile.

The mood at the CPI(M) headquarters at Alimuddin Street, on the other hand, is equally upbeat as Left Front chairman Biman Bose oozed with confidence of an eighth Left Front government coming to power.

However, the party workers in contrast gave little indication of any anxiety about Friday's results, going about their duties as they do in any other day.

Bose said confidently, to the point of almost a swagger, that all post-poll surveys and exit polls would be proved wrong and they would emerge victorious with a comfortable majority.

Asked how many seats he expected to win, Bose said, "It should be near the 2001 assembly elections."

Both the Trinamool Congress and Left camps claim that heavy turnout of voters in the gruelling six phases of the election would go to their advantage.

Trinamool Congress candidate and FICCI secretary-general Amit Mitra, who is considered a trump card for the party, told PTI, "People voted without fear after many years turning out in large numbers. The Election Commission should also be praised for facilitating free expression by the people."

A veteran Left Front leader and PWD minister Kshiti Goswami, a candidate from Alipurduar in north Bengal, said, "The way people had voted in large numbers, I am confident of winning from the seat."

In the 2001 assembly election, the Front secured 199 seats and five years later in 2006 it got a brute majority of 235 seats.

For the CPI-M, it's question of survival, because reverses in Bengal will put an end to the 34-year Left innings in the country and may also rob it of it's national stature.

Asked how many seats the Left Front is expected to win this time around, Bose said it would be close to the 2001 figure. In fact, he was so confident that he announced that the Left Front would meet on Friday evening immediately after the results are announced and would hold a press conference.

Asked by journalists if he would treat them with sweets on Friday, Bose said in his inimitable style, "Whatever has to be given will be given, and whatever not to be will not be given."

The feverish anticipation has percolated down to the street, with the roadside tea stalls and small eateries all abuzz with discussion of the possible outcome.
'Gulal' (coloured powder), significantly both of the red and green variety, are on sale in street corners.

On everbody's lips are the words, "Is 'parivartan' (change) really coming to the state after 34 years or there will be 'pratyabartan (return) of the Left front)?"

First Published: May 12, 2011, 9:04 PM IST
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