‘If anyone plans such an incident they will have to face the music'

In a vitriolic attack against the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday accused it of being responsible for the recent spurious liquor tragedy in South 24 Parganas district and for spreading rumours that supplies to a part of the district from a local water works were poisoned.

Minister for Social Welfare Sabitri Mitra, however, had a different line of argument regarding the liquor tragedy. It was the fallout of a spat between the two wives of the kingpin of the illicit liquor racket when “one of the wives poisoned the illicit liquor resulting in the death of some many persons”, she said.

The Chief Minister's endorsement in the State Assembly of a statement by the Minister for Public Health Engineering Subrata Mukherjee that he had information that the CPI(M) was behind the spreading of rumours of water poisoning led to noisy scenes with angry Left Front MLAs rushing to the well in protest. They demanded the remarks be expunged as they were denigrating and defamatory and later walked out of the House when Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay ruled that he saw no reason to do so.

Ms. Banerjee, while addressing journalists inside the Assembly premises, was more scathing in her attack against the CPI(M) and charged it of playing a “game that is dangerous….a curse to democracy”.

“A party which engages in such criminal offences and does disregards democratic propriety should not have the right to continue in politics”, she asserted.

Referring to the illicit liquor deaths as well as the rumours of water poisoning, the Chief Minister went to the length of cautioning the CPI(M) that in the event of “even one more such incident occurring in Bengal” it will be held responsible.

“If anyone plans such an incident they will have to face the music. The CPI(M) should take all precautions that such incidents do not recur”, she said.

“Since our government came to power, there have been so many plans to kill people, even to instigate communal riots to embarrass us. ….Taking advantage of our political courtesy the CPI(M) is engaging in the politics of killing” Ms. Banerjee said.

Pointing out that rumours of water being poisoned “is dangerous, a shame”, she said that it could not have happened “had it not been planted or planned”. As for what she claimed were “conspiracies of the CPI(M) to kill people”, she said: “I am not intimidated; I am stunned, I am ashamed that such people have a chance to do politics…”.

Even as she was unsparing in her attack on the CPI(M), the Chief Minister, at one point, spoke of the party and the Maoists in the same vein.

“Why should the CPI(M) and some Maoists engage in such politics (of killings)?” she asked. “We were also out of government for 34 years but never had we thought of poisoning people and resorting to the politics of killing….Such things never even entered our heads” Ms. Banerjee added.