Staff Reporter

KOLKATA: Determined to spoil Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s rally at Jhargram in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district on January 15, the leadership of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) is not ruling out the possibility of violence during the meeting.

The PSBJC has already issued a diktat to the local tribal population against participating in the rally. This is being seen as a reply by the Maoists and the PSBJC to Ms. Banerjee’s demand to deploy the army in the region to tackle the Maoist menace.

At a recent press conference, she slammed the Centre for its alleged lack of seriousness to fight out the ultra Left-wing extremists. She also accused the State government of ‘misleading’ the Centre regarding the deployment of Central forces and the situation in the three Maoist-affected districts in West Bengal.

Ms. Banerjee had also declared that her party would drive out the Maoists from the region on its own and the process will be kicked off with the Jhargram rally.

Speaking to The Hindu on Wednesday over telephone from the Lalgarh region, spokesperson of the PSBJC Asit Mahato said: “How does Ms. Banerjee expect the people of the region to listen to her at the rally, when she is asking for deployment of the army against the same? It is a publicity stunt on her part to brighten her party’s prospects in the forthcoming State Assembly elections. But the people of Jangalmahal are not going to be pawns in her political game.”

Asked if the PSBJC would use force to thwart the rally, he said: “Though we do not have any such plans, but we cannot give any assurances if agitated people do something on the spur of the moment. Ms. Banerjee and the State government are speaking in the same tone these days.”

The West Bengal government, meanwhile, has granted permission to the Trinamool to hold the rally under special provisions.

PSBJC convener Chhatradhar Mahato has reacted sharply to Ms. Banerjee’s comments at a press meet: “…Who is Chhatradhar? How did they become so powerful unless the State government supplied them with arms from the State armoury?” While being taken to the Midnapore court on Wednesday, Mr. Mahato told journalists that Ms. Banerjee is “clueless about what she is saying and is making bizarre statements.”