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Basu raps media for bias against Left Front - The Observer

Sankar Ray ()
March 13, 1998

Title: Basu raps media for bias against Left Front
Author: Sankar Ray
Publication: The Observer
Date: March 13, 1998

West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu on Wednesday flayed the
media "for pampering the Trinamool Congress and its accomplice in
the State, the Bharatiya Janata Party" at the first meeting here
of the Left Front after the 12th Lok Sabha elections.

He criticised the media for its bias towards "saffron-clad
politics", routed through the West Bengal Trinamool Congress,
floated by Mamata Banerjee.

Mr Basu defended the performance of the Left Front arguing that
contrary to the all India slide-down, the LF maintained its
strength intact in West Bengal.

Attended by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist
Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party and the All India
Forward Bloc, the meeting carried a distinct sign of the CPI (M)
attitude of not going in for a self-critical review, probably
because of the panchayat elections due in May end this year.

"Our strength has not reduced - Though we lost two seats, we have
made up for it by wresting back two others from the Congress,"
the 84-year-old CPI(M) Politbureau member asserted.

However, Mr Basu's stand was not to the liking of the CPI,
Forward Bloc and the RSP, which wanted a self-criticism and open
admission that the LF had been complacent and driven by the
assumption that it would win hands down as the 40 per cent
Congress vote would split to the advantage of the Left.

It was. however, agreed that the LF would go into the causes of
its defeat m some of the hitherto impregnable bases by a joint
review of the state and district level leaders of the LF.

The CPI and the RSP suggested that in some cases, introspection
at the block level would be necessary.

The meeting decided that each constituent would prepare its own
analysis prior to the next LF meeting on April 6.

West Bengal CPI state council secretary and its national council
member Manju Kumar Majumdar, although refusing to disclose the
issues that were raised at the meeting, confirmed that "our party
would present its own analysis and would participate in a Joint
probe the pitfalls."

Incidentally, he added, "We have made an overall review prior to
the detailed one. The number of votes received by the LF came
down from 1,80,11,780 in 1996 to 1,70,42,284 in 1998, indicating
a fall in vote percentage received by us from 49.01 to 47.21. The
Congress was shamefully rejected as its votes fell from 1,48,818
to 55,70,646, a decline from 10.36 per cent to 16.69 per cent.
This includes votes received by allies of the party like the
Forward Bloc (Socialist).

"Me BJP's percentage went up from 6.88 in 1996 to 8.48 in 1998,
although it contested In less than half of what it had fought in
1996. Its votes had shot up from 25,16,854 in 1996 to 30,60,W7 in
1998. although it was not even two months old when it fought the
elections, got 26.21 per cent of votes at 94,65,542 votes."

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