Wednesday, May 7, 2008

‘Ensure low turnout for win’ : The Statesman (7.05.08)

Biswabrata Goswami
NANDIGRAM, May 6: With the three-tier panchayat polls knocking at the door, the CPI-M leadership in Midnapore East district has planned to go in for what an insider described as “a final strike” on the villages of Nandigram two to three days prior to the day of polling to ensure a low voter turnout. Nandigram goes to the polls along with the entire district on 11 May, the first phase of the three-phased panchayat polls in the state.
A low percentage of voting would enable the CPI-M to romp home in the trouble-torn gram panchayats in Nandigram, a party official said. While in a fair world the Opposition would be expected to increase its number of seats as well as its vote-share, taking advantage of the anti-land acquisition movement, a low turnout would cut down on the anti-CPI-M votes, district-level leaders of the party said.
The vote percentage in Nandigram-I and II blocks during the previous Parliamentary, Assembly and panchayat elections was as high as 89. During the last panchayat polls in 2003, the CPI-M had secured 53 per cent votes in Nandigram-I block, while its vote share came down to 49.52 per cent in the last Assembly poll.
In Nandigram-II block, the CPI-M had marginally increased its vote share from the last panchayat poll to the Parliamentary and Assembly polls. To ensure a low voter turnout, the CPI-M district leadership believes that applying what can only be described as terror tactics is the way out. In order to make their plan work, they have already piled up a huge cache of arms, ammunition and bombs at various points.