Pramod Giri, HT, 16 May 2016, SILIGURI: As elsewhere, political observers have kept an eye on whether the Siliguri Model would have statewide ramifications. Asok Bhattacharya, the man behind the Siliguri Model, is hopeful that the election alliance between the Left Front and the Congress, a corollary-to the Siliguri Model, would help to oust the Trinamool from power. (The forging of grass-roots-level understanding between Left Front and Congress during 2015 Siliguri Municipal Corporation(S MC) and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad (SMP) elections which defeated the Trinamool is termed as the Siliguri Model.)
Alliance partners are hopeful of winning a maximum number of seats in seven districts of North Bengal with 54 seats. Districts such as North Dinajpur and Malda still have strong a Congress support base while Left Front is a force to reckon with in districts like Cooch Behar and Alipurduar. The alliance partners together could prove a formidable force in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts while the Trinamool has the brightest chance to win the South Dinajpur district. The emergence of BJP in Alipurduar district might throw some surprises.
Gautam Deb, former North Bengal development minister and the Trinamool’s former North Bengal core committee chairman, contesting from Jalpaiguri’s Dabgram-Fulbari Assembly constituency, said, “We would fare better in North Bengal as voters have voted for the development works carried by the state government in the last four and half years.”
But Asok Bhattacharya, contesting as the CPI(M) candidate from Siliguri, is hopeful that the Left Front-Congress alliance would work its magic in the region.
In 2011, of the 54 seats in North Bengal, Trinamool won 16, Congress 17, Left Front 16 while Gorkha Janmukti Morcha won three and independents won two.
Going by the 2011 election results, the Trinamool emerged as the strongest political force in Dakshin Dinajpur district where it won five of the six seats. Though this time also political pundits are ready to give the benefit of doubt to the ruling party, Trinamool workers themselves seem not to be confident. Factionalism could be the main cause of the party’s failure to retain the seats it won last time.
In Uttar Dinajpur district, once considered a Congress stronghold, Amal Acharya, Trinamool district committee president, is confident of winning six of the nine seats. But the party’s grassroots-level leaders, opposition parties and local journalists opine that the alliance partners have an advantage over the ruling party. Darjeeling district with six Assembly seats might emerge as the most difficult political terrain for the ruling party. Contesting in five of the six seats, the Trinamool can pin hopes only in Siliguri and Phasidewa seats.
In Jalpaiguri district with seven seats, the Trinamool is sure to win three seats such as Rajganj, Mainaguri, Dabgram-Fulbari while the opposition seems to be in an advantageous position in the remaining four seats.
In the f ive s e at s in Alipurduar district, the BJP and the alliance partners might give the ruling party a run for its money in three seats: Madarihat, Kalchini and Kumargram. The Trinamool hopes to retain Falakata and win Alipurduar.
In Cooch Behar district with nine seats, the Trinamool emerged as the strongest political party. In 2011, the Trinamool and the Forward Bloc won four seats each while the Congress won one. As the election was held in the last phase opposition parties managed to garner sufficient arsenal to attack the Trinamool and show it in a bad light. “Our winning prospects have dwindled in the district,” said a senior Trinamool leader from Cooch Behar.
In Malda, the Trinamool hopes to increase its tally. In Malda district’s 12 seats, Trinamool got only one seat in 2011, the Congress got eight seats and CPI(M), RSP and Forward Bloc got one seat each.