Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's tirade at a rally supported by the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) in Lalgarh on Monday against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which she held primarily responsible for the “terror” in the region — in contrast to the Centre's perception that it is the Maoists who are the perpetrators — seems only to give credence to the Left's contention that the Trinamool Congress and the Maoists are in collusion in West Bengal.
There was nothing “apolitical” about the rally as earlier announced by Ms. Banerjee unless what she had meant was that it would not be held under the banner of the Trinamool Congress.
And though the rally did highlight the need for “a democratic resistance against violence,” the main speakers, who included social activists Medha Patkar and Swami Agnivesh, exhorted the congregation to rally behind Ms. Banerjee in her campaign to dislodge the Left from power.
The point being made could not be missed. The Assembly elections may not be due till next year but Ms. Banerjee who had been maintaining that they would be advanced did so yet again. Another three months to the polls, she insisted.
Swami Agnivesh declared that the days of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as Chief Minister were numbered. He might well have been speaking at an election rally of the Trinamool Congress: “Buddhadeb Babu will go, the CPI(M) will go…the new era is that of Mamata Banerjee.”
Ms. Banerjee said the CPI(M) was not able to “fight her politically” so they were resorting to violence, all with the hope of winning the Assembly seats in the region [Jangalmahal]. “You [the CPI(M)] will not get even one,” she said.
So much for an “apolitical rally” on a “neutral platform,” as Ms. Banerjee had described it a few days ago, revising her earlier stand that her party would be organising the meeting.
Its alliance partner in the State, the Congress is also apparently bogged down by its own electoral compulsions. Speaking at a rally at Tamluk in Purbo Medinipur, the district president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, Manas Bhunia, welcomed Ms. Banerjee's efforts for “peace and democracy” in the Lalgarh region. “Ninety-nine per cent of the Maoists in the State are none but former disgruntled CPI(M) supporters,” he claimed in the presence of AICC general secretary K. Keshava Rao.
The “unconditional support” of the PSBJC — an outfit that Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said is a frontal organisation of the Maoists — to the rally at Lalgarh might have left some squirming within the government of which Ms. Banerjee is a Minister though she is well aware of her “limitations” in that role, as she admitted at the public meeting.
When informed of the developments over the rally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had reportedly told senior CPI(M) MP Basudeb Acharia last week that “it is unfortunate.” For after all, it was he who had described the Maoists as the biggest threat to internal security. As for Mr. Chidambaram, there is evidently no evidence of the Trinamool Congress' links with the Maoists.
Ms. Banerjee's arguments on the presence of Maoists in West Bengal have been rather inconsistent. “There are no Maoists” in the State, she had once claimed. But how the CPI(M) will react to her allegation at the rally that its activists were going about perpetrating atrocities attired in the outfits “of the police and the military” and after committing a murder leaving behind leaflets purportedly written by Maoists is anybody's guess.