Kolkata: The flight of CPI-M supporters to BJP is evident from the pattern that has been followed in filing nomination of candidates in the three-tier Panchayat election in Bankura.
Bankura was a stronghold of CPI-M since Independence. The villages were under control of the party and the party used to lead the Panchayat election. From 1978, when the Panchayat election was held in Bengal for the first time, the Opposition was not allowed to file nomination. The CPI-M had unleashed a reign of terror and this continued till 2003. In 2008, Trinamool Congress won the Zilla Parishad in East Midnapore and South 24-Parganas. It was for the first time that the erosion of CPI-M's vote bank had become evident. But because of the party's terror, Trinamool Congress had fielded only 35,000 candidates for 58,000 seats in 2008.
In the 46 member Zilla Parishad, CPI-M has fielded only 14 candidates, followed by Congress, which had fielded only 9 candidates. BJP has fielded 18 candidates, while Trinamool Congress has fielded 65 candidates. In Panchayat Samity there are 535 seats. Of these seats, CPI-M and Congress have fielded 119 and 6 candidates respectively, while BJP has fielded 189 candidates. Trinamool Congress has fielded 743 candidates in Panchayat Samity.
In Gram Panchayat, there are 2,505 seats. BJP has fielded 859 candidates, while CPI-M and Congress have fielded 427 candidates and 18 candidates respectively. Trinamool Congress has nominated 2,991 candidates. Trinamool Congress has won 530 seats in Gram Panchayat, 175 seats in Panchayat Samity and 26 seats in Zilla Parishad uncontested.
In Bankura blocks I and II, Barjora, Bishnupur and Gangajalghanti, which were once CPI-M strongholds, the party has fielded 25, 0, 3, 6 and 1 candidates in Gram Panchayat. In these seats, BJP has fielded 81, 90, 3, and 69 candidates.
In Panchayat Samity in Saltora, Sarenga, Simlipal and Sonamukhi blocks, CPI-M has fielded 0, 19, 21 and 0 candidates. In Zilla Parishad in Bankura Sadar, Bishnupur and Khatra seats, CPI-M has fielded 0, 0 and 14 candidates, while BJP has fielded 0, 0 and 18 candidates.
Political experts said that until recently, BJP did not have any organisation in these rural belts. CPI-M supporters have joined BJP around six months ago. Mamata Banerjee has criticised CPI-M for its failure to boost up the rank and file of the party, who have shifted to the BJP camp.