KOLKATA: All eyes are on trouble-torn Nandigram of West Bengal as it holds a by-election to the state assembly Jan 5, with prolonged violence in
2007 and 2008 over land acquisition fresh on everyone's minds.
Nerves are so taut in the state administration that this by-poll and another have been deferred from the original date last Saturday because not enough central paramilitary forces to ensure peaceful polls arrived on time.
The Nandigram area of East Midnapore district has seen prolonged blood letting between the state's ruling Communists and the opposition over land acquisition for a proposed chemical engineering hub. The project has been aborted.
Now, politically, things have become more interesting because there seems to be an unstated understanding between the opposition parties Trinamool Congress and the Congress for this by-poll.
They are joining hands to take on the ruling Communists, a development that may have implications for the parliament polls that will possibly be held next April or May.
The by-poll rivals - the Trinamool Congress and the ruling Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) - are trying to cash in on the sentiments of the locals, who suffered heavily due to police firing and fiercely violent political clashes.
The Trinamool Congress has fielded Firoza Bibi, who lost her younger son Indadur in the March 14, 2007, police firing.
Ruling Left Front partner Communist Party of India (CPI), whose representative Sheikh Mohammed Illias won the seat in 2006, has named Paramananda Bharati, a veteran teacher of the area, as its candidate.
Illias resigned his seat following his alleged involvement in a bribery case. A sting operation by a news television channel had shown him apparently accepting a bribe of Rs.10,000 from a non-governmental organisation for development work in his area.
"People in Nandigram stood by us voting for the Trinamool Congress in the panchayat (rural local body)...