Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addresses rallies in same region, warns of attempts by separatists
Kolkata: For the first time since the two parties announced on March 1 an understanding to contest the Lok Sabha elections together in West Bengal, their leaders — External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee of the Congress and Mamata Banerjee, chief of the Trinamool Congress — shared the dais while addressing rallies in north Bengal on Sunday.
Among the districts they visited together in a helicopter was Cooch Behar, where Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also addressed public meetings the same day, canvassing support for the local Left Front candidates.
Mr. Bhattacharjee went ahead with his programme despite reports of a phone call to a local news channel, allegedly from someone in Bangladesh, warning of dire consequences if the rally at Toofanganj was held.
The Chief Minister, who has been addressing meetings at various places in north Bengal over the past three days, is warning of attempts by separatist forces active in the region to bifurcate the State.
He has been reiterating his government’s determination to abort the conspiracy being hatched by those calling for the creation of a separate Gorkhaland State and those behind the demand for a Greater Cooch Behar as well as Kamtapur State.
At the public meeting at Toofanganj, Mr. Bhattacharjee wondered why the Congress and the Trinamool Congress were silent when it came to opposing divisive forces inciting trouble in the region.
He expressed his “thanks to the people” for reminding the Left Front leadership of the need to strengthen unity among the constituents.
“We suffered reverses in certain areas in the panchayat elections [in May 2008] because of discord among ourselves but now we are united, having learnt our lesson,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.
Addressing a rally in Cooch Behar town, Ms. Banerjee said the alliance her party had forged “with the Congress and our friends in the Left” is bent on “removing the corrupt Left Front from power that it has been enjoying for the past 32 years.”
Charge against Left
Mr. Mukherjee, who made a scathing attack on the State government for ‘failing’ the people of West Bengal, looked on from the dais as the Trinamool Congress chief accused the Left Front of trying to “divide the State by backing the separatist forces active in north Bengal.”
It is because of the Left Front’s failure to develop the north Bengal region that thousands of unemployed youth were leaving for places like Rajasthan in search of employment as labourers, she said. “The CPI (M) has been deceiving the people in the name of industrialisation. The government has been able to provide neither food nor work,” Ms. Banerjee added.