Rival groups quietly optimistic after large voter turnout


Staff member
Dubai: With North Bengal having registered a record voting percentage in the first phase of assembly polls on April 18, both the ruling Left Front and the Congress-Trinamool Congress opposition remain cautiously optimistic about the remaining five phases of the electoral process, stretching until May 10.

Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North and South Dinajpur and Malda districts recorded 84 per cent voting for 54 assembly seats on Monday — two percentage points more than the last elections in 2006.

Trinamool leaders have interpreted this as a reflection of an overwhelming desire among the electorate to bring about a change of governance, while the Left Front top brass is hopeful that this will have a positive bearing on its candidates.

An independent opinion poll commissioned by a Kolkata-based Bangla television news channel, and conducted by AC Nielsen, last week showed Congress-Trinamool was heading for a two-thirds majority in the state and would win 215 out of the 294 seats, while the Left Front's tally would be restricted to a meager 74 — a huge setback from the 235 seats it had won in 2006.

Not taken seriously

Reacting to the opinion poll results, CPI (M) central committee member Mohammad Salim told Gulf News: "In this age of embedded journalism and paid news, opinion polls conducted by various media houses should not be taken seriously. In fact, contrary to the AC Nielsen survey, our assessment indicates that the Left Front will be winning about 160-165 seats."

Elaborating on his view, Salim further said: "During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Left Front had got about 43 per cent votes, while Congress-Trinamool had garnered a little over 49 per cent.

"However, our survey on April 16 showed that the Left Front combine was marginally ahead and the high voter turnout in the first phase is a pointer to the changed circumstances."

The Trinamool camp is obviously quite upbeat about the opinion poll indicators and the high percentage of voting on April 18, though they are not going overboard as yet. "There is no point in being euphoric about it. However, these [opinion poll] results do tally with our own independent assessment of the ground reality to a large extent," Trinamool secretary-general Partha Chatterjee told a section of the media in Kolkata.