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West Bengal: TMC Sees Red as Left Committee Sweeps to Victory in Cooperative Election

Out of the total of 63 seats, the Left won 51 seats uncontested – as there were no candidates fielded by the TMC and the BJP. Contests were held in only 11 seats where a faction of TMC put up their candidates and lost.
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Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Kolkata: For the villagers of the Nandakumar area of East Medinipur district, the Baharampur Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society has been a model one.

The Left had swept to victory in the 2017 election to the cooperative. This year, seemingly content 1300 members of the cooperative went for a unanimous election of most of the members elected in 2017.

Interestingly, after 2019, some members of the cooperative had joined the BJP, while some went to the TMC. But ahead of the election this year, the members decided to continue with the administration comprising Left members. They also formed a committee called Samabai Bachao Committee (Save the Cooperative Committee) – to stand up and fight for the cooperative movement in the state.

Out of the total of 63 seats, the Left won 51 seats uncontested – as there were no candidates fielded by the TMC and the BJP. Contests were held in only 11 seats where a faction of TMC put up their candidates. But they lost handsomely in the election to the Left-controlled Samabai Bachao Committee candidates.

The development is especially noteworthy as the ruling TMC has been accused of attempting to gain more and more control over the cooperatives in the state. The election results for many cooperatives in the state have been challenged in the courts and many of these cases remain pending. Against this backdrop, the members of the Baharampur Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society decided to swim against the tide to ensure that the cooperative remains in safe hands.

However, following the victory of the Samabai Bachao Committee candidates, the TMC has embarked on a campaign to undermine the Committee. It has created a false narrative of an “understanding between the Left and BJP”. To counter this allegation, the leaders of the Committee have released a statement asserting that the members who fought in the election fought on a left-democratic and progressive platform. They further added that the formation of their manch (platform) has been necessitated as “the states’ cooperatives are in the hands of plunderers”.

NewsClick spoke with Niranjan Sihi, secretary of the East Medinipur district of the CPI(M), who said that the cooperative election has not been a political election. “The main issue there was to thwart the TMC’s attempt at taking over the cooperative from the present administration – which has managed the cooperative well in the past five years. BJP is trying to take credit for this win by launching a false campaign,” he said.

CPI(M) Central committee member Dr Sujan Chakraborty seconded Sihi’s view. He said, “This election was not fought on a political plank. Some of the erstwhile Left-affiliated members – who had won in the 2017 election – had joined BJP and TMC. However, in this election, they fought with the projected aim of keeping the managerial committee intact and not letting it be subjected to the TMC’s domination or the BJP’s loot. Still, the role of all CPI(M) leaders behind this election and the allegation levelled by a section of the media of the Left-BJP alliance are being closely looked into.”

CPI(M) State secretary MD Salim said, “The nearer the panchayat elections, the more vicious will be such campaigns by the right wing. When the TMC leaders who had switched to BJP return, it is not looked at with suspicion. Questions are raised only when Left members who had strayed away come back to the Left fold.”

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