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Shut for Years, CPI(M) Reclaims its Offices in Bengal After TMC Effect Fades in Lok Sabha Polls

Shut for Years, CPI(M) Reclaims its Offices in Bengal After TMC Effect Fades in Lok Sabha Polls

For the last nine years, most of the CPI (M) offices were captured, vandalised and set afire allegedly by the Trinamool Congress workers after Mamata Banerjee came to power in 2011.

Kolkata: The Lok Sabha election not only created inroads for the BJP in West Bengal, it also breathed a new life into the CPI(M) that has been dormant here since the Trinamool Congress (TMC) wrested control in 2011. The Left party has started rebuilding and reopening its offices "on its own" after the ruling TMC's strength deteriorated in many gram panchayats across the state.

For the last nine years, most of the CPI(M) offices were captured, vandalised and set on fire allegedly by TMC workers after Mamata Banerjee came to power. Since then, due to a leadership crisis, shifting of cadres, and a steady erosion of its vote bank, the party’s offices remained shut, mostly out of fear. Banerjee, on several occasions, had said that the Left front was getting support from the BJP in the state.

Speaking to News18, CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty, said, “It is true that we have reopened nearly 55 party offices across the state. We did it without any party’s help. The BJP indulged in false campaigning that they are helping us. The TMC is claiming that the BJP is helping us. These claims are false.”

Chakraborty said the party has opened most of its office in Cooch Behar. “In Mahishadal, in East Midnapore district, our party office was closed for many years. TMC’s MP Dev is dominant in that area. Interestingly, soon after the Lok Sabha poll results, a group of TMC workers handed over the party office to us. However, TMC’s Subhendu Adhikari went there on Tuesday and recaptured it,” he added.

In Cooch Behar, the CPI (M) managed to reopen its party offices at Dinhata’s Nigamnagar, Betaguri and Pilkhana area.

Among the most significant of the offices was Nandigram (East Midnapore district), where the CPI (M) in May managed to reclaim space after a gap of 12 years. The CPI(M), in 2007, had shut its offices here after the TMC set them ablaze during protests over setting up of SEZ.

“We are happy to reopen ‘Sukumar Sen Gupta Bhawan’, our main party office in Nandigram and our Zonal office nearby in Reyapara area. It was locked for 12 years,” said CPI(M) MLA Sheikh Ibrahim Ali. He added that the 2019 general polls changed the political arithmetic in Bengal and the party is now starting its revamp from the grass-root level.

Similar jubilation echoed at Bengai gram panchayat in Goghat in Hooghly district where the CPI (M) cadres managed to take control of their office from the ruling TMC.

CPI(M) Hooghly district president Debabrata Ghosh said, “The TMC took control of the Bengai office in 2011. We could not open it due to the terror of TMC. They attacked and threatened our workers.” Gosh added that the TMC has been weakened in the area and the CPI(M) is trying to reorganise itself from the booth level. “It is a good sign that comrades are slowly re-entering the party offices across the state,” Ghosh added.

At Hooghly’s Khanakul and Basantapur in Arambagh, the CPI (M) offices were reopened. However, local BJP leaders allegedly asked them to not put their party flags.

“Last night, nearly 150 BJP workers threatened us not to put our party flag on our office. We are less in numbers in that area, so we had to abide. Earlier, it was the TMC and now the BJP is doing the same,” a local CPI (M) leader said.

At Barasat in North 24-Parganas, CPI (M) workers also held a small rally after reopening its office in Duttapukur and after painting it fresh with red.

CPI (M) party office at Duttapukur in Barasat reopened in North 24-Parganas with fresh red paint.
Freshly painted CPI(M) office at Duttapukur in Barasat.

“After the Lok Sabha poll results, the TMC is not as active in North 24-Parganas. Taking advantage of the situation, we managed to reopen our Duttapukur office after a gap of ten years. We are planning to reopen other party offices in the area,” said Nantu Ali Mondal, a local CPI(M) leader. Mondal believes that the CPI(M) will rise as a strong opposition in Bengal, while the TMC will be finished.

In Bardhaman, Howrah, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, Malda, Dinajpur, South 24-Parganas, Birbhum also, the Left front managed to reclaim its offices.

Analysis suggests that TMC suffered the massive set back because Left’s vote share which is nearly 29.75 per cent in the 2014 general election shifted to the BJP in this year’s Lok Sabha. This weakened the ruling TMC and the current political situation is likely to go in favour of CPI (M) in future in reclaiming its lost ground considering the 2021 Assembly polls in Bengal.