Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee described on Monday Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s charge at a Left Front rally earlier in the day of her party being in league with the Maoists as “His Master’s Voice playing a scratched record.”

She also repeated her claim that there were no Maoists in the State.

‘Twin brothers’

“There is nothing [no group] by the name of Maoists in Bengal…Maoists and Marxists are twin brothers, two sides of the same coin who are operating together. Let the Union Home Minister inquire into whether the Maoists and the CPI(M) have any connection,” Ms. Banerjee said, adding: “Those people who walk about [in areas that have been the scene of violence] with their faces covered are all CPI(M) leaders in the guise of Maoists.”

Mr. Bhattacharjee spoke that way “as he has failed to provide development, ensure peace, progress and democratic rights to the people,” Ms. Banerjee said.

‘Bring Army in’

Reiterating her opposition to the joint security operation in Lalgarh and its adjoining areas in the State’s Paschim Medinipur district, she said the Army should be brought in to conduct operations against those responsible for the killings in the region as well as to seize illegally stockpiled arms.

“In the name of a joint venture the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is committing atrocities against the people in the region…Let the area be declared a disturbed area and the Army be brought in,” she added.

Ms. Banerjee also repeated her demand for the imposition of Article 356 in the State, “where the government has been engaged in State-sponsored terrorism.”

The Trinamool Congress was ready for early Assembly elections “even if it is held tomorrow,” she said.

“The people have given their verdict [in the recent elections] for ma, manush and mati [the Trinamool Congress slogan], and we will welcome elections whenever the Election Commission announces them,” Ms. Banerjee added.

To take out processions

In contrast to the rally organised by the Left Front in the afternoon against issues relating to the rise in prices of essential commodities and the raging violence, the Trinamool Congress announced its decision to take out processions at the block levels across the State on November 21 and 22 on these issues.

“Instead of a centralised programme, processions will be taken out at the block level on November 21 in protest against rise in prices of essential commodities, about which the State government has done nothing,” Ms. Banerjee said.

Processions will also be taken out by party leaders and workers at the block levels “against terror and for peace, democracy, development and progress” the following day, she added.