Accusing Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of having failed to protect the fundamental as well as constitutional rights of people in several parts of West Bengal in the wake of political violence, the State’s Congress leadership demanded the invoking of Article 355 in the State.

The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC)’s demand came a day after Mr. Bhattacharjee had clarified before the Legislative Assembly that the situation in the State does not need the invoking of Article 355 and had charged the Opposition with perpetrating violence in several places to reap political benefits.

(Article 355 mentions that “It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”)

Referring to Mr. Bhattacharjee’s speech at the Assembly where he had allegedly admitted that the fundamental rights of people have been violated in certain pockets of the State, Manas Bhunia, senior leader of the WBPCC, said: “When a Chief Minister goes on record saying that fundamental rights of people have been violated, then there is no reason why he should oppose invoking Article 355.”

‘Internal disturbance’

Mr. Bhunia added that though the party was against the imposition of Article 356, it believes that the Article should be invoked in the State keeping in view the ‘internal disturbance’ caused by violence against people cutting across political party lines.

“We have prepared a list of all persons killed in the State for the last one-and-half-months due to political violence, irrespective of party colour, and will be sending copies of it to the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, Sonia Gandhi, soon,” Mr. Bhunia said at a press conference here.

Casting doubt on how much effective the joint operation by Central forces in Lalgarh in Paschim Medinipur district have been to flush out the Maoists, he pointed out that people are killed in the region regularly even after the presence of 23 companies of Central forces.

Talking about the murder of a Congress worker at Habra in North 24 Parganas district on December 20, allegedly by a Trinamool Congress-backed miscreant, and the impact the allegation could have on the future of the coalition between the two parties, Mr. Bhunia said that the claim could be substantiated only after the police arrested the accused. He warned the Communist Party of India (Marxist) against trying to play ‘divisive politics’ over the incident.

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