In Nandigram, Trinamool's main opposition is Trinamool

FPIsmail Khan

Nandigram, cradle of the anti-land acquisition movement that catapulted Mamata Banerjee to power, is now the stage for a bitter contest within her party.

Nandigram 1 and Nandigram 2 block panchayat samitis, controlled by the Trinamool Congress since 2008, go to polls next week. The most glaring example of rebellion comes from within the family of Sheikh Sufian, a panchayat functionary in the East Midnapore zilla parishad, and one of the two leaders who had spearheaded the Nandigram movement after police firing on protesters in 2007. The other face of the movement is that of Abu Taher, vice-chairman of Nandigram 1 samity, whom Ismail has been attacking.

Ismail, one of Sufian's four sons-in-law, is contesting independently against the official party candidate in one of the 30 seats in Nandigram 1. He was denied a ticket with the party preferring Piyush Bhuina, who is close to Tamluk MP Shubhendu Adhikary.

"It is because of Taher that there is dissidence. Leaders are involved in corruption and nepotism. They have become dictators. The party will have to pay the price," Ismail told this correspondent.

"I am a Trinamool Congress member, yet fed up with the dictatorial attitude of some party leaders," he said, sitting outside his home. He is the convener of the Trinamool education cell in Nandigram, and a biology graduate working as a laboratory assistant with Nandigram Brojomahan Tewary Siksha Niketan.

"They first decided to field me as a candidate but on June 4, when I went to file my nomination, I was told it was Piyush Bhuina who would contest."

A look at the electoral scene at Nandigram 1 reveals the extent of rebellion. Besides the 30 panchayat samiti seats, of which eight have already been won uncontested by the Trinamool, Nandigram has 140 gram panchayat seats with 32 won uncontested by the Trinamool. The remaining 108 have only 63 opposition candidates — five of the CPM, 13 of the CPI and 45 of the Congress. In the several seats where the opposition has no candidate, Trinamool dissidents have plunged in. "More than 50 candidates who are contesting as independents are from the Trinamool Congress," Supian said.

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