The CPI(M), which drew a blank in West Bengal in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, seems to have emerged as the surprising beneficiary in the pitched battle for control of party offices between the BJP and TMC in the state, with the Left party managing to reopen more than 150 of them in the last four days, sources said.
Party offices in Bankura, Purulia, Coochbihar, Bardhaman, Hooghly, North 24 Parganas and Howrah among others have now not only been taken over by the CPI(M) cadres, but the party symbol is being painted on them and party flags are now flying proudly atop the buildings.
“BJP’s IT cell is running a propaganda saying that the BJP is helping the CPI(M) to reclaim its offices in the state. It is a complete lie. We have recaptured our offices which had been taken away from us by the TMC. We have been able to do this because TMC has been weakened, its erosion is clear. Our people had been preparing to take over the offices,” senior CPI(M) leader and Politburo member Nilotpal Basu told PTI.
It was in 2011 that these party offices belonged to the CPI(M). After the loss of the Left Front to the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress, 34 years after it came to power, they were taken over by the TMC and its twin flowers were painted on their walls.
TMC which had won 35 of the 42 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls managed only 22 of the 42 seats in the state this time, with BJP gaining significantly with 18 seats from its previous two seats.
“The CPI(M) has managed to get back some of its party offices in the state with the help of the BJP. The BJP has got some seats and now they are using force and violence. They are definitely helping them. But it’s only a handful of offices, nothing great,” said TMC leader Sisir Adhikari.
However, BJP’s Howrah Town district president Surajit Saha told PTI that there was no instruction from the party to help the CPI(M) reclaim their offices.
“We have received no such instruction from the party. However, I have heard that in many places TMC offices are being taken over by the CPI(M) and BJP. These things happen post-poll,” said Saha when asked if the BJP cadres were helping the CPI (M) to reclaim their party offices.
A senior CPI(M) Politburo member said that the party was reclaiming its own offices because it was the first time since 2011 that Banerjee’s TMC was weak and vulnerable. Stating that the TMC was reaping the “fruits of colluding with the BJP”, the leader indicated that the party was taking back what belonged to it.
“After the polls, the BJP has been systematically ransacking TMC offices in the state. Clashes have happened and in the chaos, the CPI(M) has recaptured our offices which had been earlier captured by the TMC goons. Why should the BJP help us? We have got them back on our own strength,” another senior Politburo member told PTI.