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State left parties form common platform for 2018 panchayat polls
PRANJAL BHUYAN
 GUWAHATI, Sept 2 - The Left parties in Assam have started gearing up for next year’s panchayat polls and they are looking to fight the elections on a common platform by focusing on the issues of ‘communalism’ as well as the fallout of the ‘neo-liberal economic policies’ on the agrarian sector of the State.

Senior leaders of the Left parties told The Assam Tribune that efforts would be made to build a consensus within the 11-party Left Democratic Manch (LDM) to fight the panchayat elections unitedly. They added that there is no question of joining hands with the Congress, and that the Left would maintain distance from both the Congress and the BJP.

“We have started identifying zila parishads and gaon panchayats where our party has some organisational strength and in such places we have started mobilising our cadres. Our fight will be against both the Congress and the BJP. While the Congress may be a secular party, it has time and again compromised with communal elements in the past.

At the same time, the economic policies of both the Congress and the BJP are the same,” Deben Bhattacharya, Assam State secretary of the CPI (M) told this newspaper.

He said an effort would be made to have some sort of coordination among the LDM constituents.

“Till now no formal discussions have taken place. But during the bye-elections to the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha and the Dhemaji Assembly seats, the LDM constituents were united. We are keen to extend that understanding to the panchayat polls as well. The LDM constituents will meet in September for an initial discussion in this regard,” said the veteran Marxist leader.

He added that besides highlighting the growing threat from ‘communal forces’, the CPI (M) would also take up the matter of growing distress in the agrarian sector and falling standard of living of the rural masses and try to spread awareness on such issues.

On its own, the CPI (M) is focusing on the districts of Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur and Kamrup where the party has some base.

Dambaru Bora, State executive member of the Communist Party of India (CPI), said that the district committees of the party have been directed to prepare for the

panchayat polls.

“Our State executive will hold a meeting in Guwahati on September 7-8 where detailed discussions will take place regarding the panchayat polls. While consolidating our own party’s base, we are also keen on having a united front of all LDM constituents. The panchayat polls are an opportunity to firm up a solid alliance of all Left and democratic forces of Assam,” Bora said.

The CPI, on its own, will focus on Sivasagar, Golaghat, Morigaon, Jorhat and Lakhimpur districts.

“We are also keen to take the LDM experiment to the district, block and panchayat levels.

Our poll plank will be against the economic policies of the government and their repercussions on rural areas which have led to massive destitution and distress in the farm sector,” Bora said.

Bibek Das, central committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation said that the forthcoming panchayat polls would prepare the ground for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Assam.

“It will no doubt be good if the Left can fight the panchayat polls unitedly. We will try for unity and our party is against both the BJP and the Congress.

“The coming panchayat polls will be historic. Not only will this be the first panchayat polls after the coming of BJP to power in Dispur, it will also be held at a time when public disenchantment with the saffron party is growing due to their betrayal of the slogan – jati, mati and bheti,” said Das.

He said the CPI (ML) Liberation would, on its own, focus on Dibrugarh, Nagaon and Biswanath districts for the panchayat polls.

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