ROURKELA: The CPM seems to have been caught between the devil and deep sea on the issue of district status for Bonai sub-dvision of the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district.The party had been on the forefront raising the demand for the separate district status with sitting MLA from the constituency Laxman Munda spearheading a movement on the issue. However, the scenario has changed after the party entered into an alliance with Congress, whose regional strongman and Biramitrapur MLA George Tirkey fiercely opposed to it.
George is the Congress candidate for Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat and in no situation is going to relent. While the CPM has fielded Munda from Bonai Assembly constituency, its alliance partner Congress is contesting the Sundargarh Parliamentary constituency and the rest six Assembly segments under it.
Political observers said the alliance partners are heavily dependant on each other to make victory possible for their candidates. While in 2014, Laxman won by a narrow margin of 18,18 votes, the CPM will need Congress push to see it through comfortably this time. At the same time, the faction-ridden Congress also needs CPM help to ensure a good lead for George from the Assembly segment.
Congress sources said if CPM ignores the district issue, it risks losing a sizeable number of votes of Bonai residents, while supporting it would irk George. In the changed scenario both allies are in a tricky situation and will prefer to put it on the backburner. The BJP, on the other hand, is ready to pounce on the difficulties of the allies. Bonai BJP organisational district president RS Pradhan said they continue to support the demands for declaration of separate Bonai district, Notified Area Council for Bonai sub-divisional headquarter and block status to Khuntgaon panchayat.
The party would highlight the double-standards adopted by the alliance partners on the issue, he said.
The Bonai MLA Munda, avoiding direct comment over the issue, said he would go by the decision of his party and at the same breath admitted it to be a popular demand of Bonai people. George has maintained that Sundargarh is a scheduled district under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution and at no cost its bifurcation will be allowed. Any attempt to de-schedule the disrict will jeopardise the special constitutional rights and protection to tribal people. He said it would only be decided by the tribal masses.