The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pothole on poll path

The picture on left ' a potholed pathway. The picture on right ' a street so smooth. The civic battle cry on the billboard ' Calcutta then vs Calcutta now; bumpy ride then vs easy passage now.

The pothole-free poll plank of the Trinamul Congress-run Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) was proved a lie on Thursday evening by the CPM's mayoral candidate, but for a painful price.

Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya underwent a surgery at a private nursing home in Jodhpur Park on Friday. He broke his leg on Thursday after stepping into a pothole while headed for an election rally in Ramgarh ' a CPM civic pocket.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said Bhattacharya would rejoin the election campaign within a week. But for now, Bhattacharya is confined to a hospital bed, a victim of pothole peril plaguing the city.

The CPM spoke in two voices ' neither too belligerent ' about the ground reality that tripped the mayoral candidate.

A section of local party supporters ran a whisper campaign blaming the Trinamul Congress-run civic board.

'The CMC recently laid an underground water pipeline at Ramgarh. For this, the entire road was dug up, but after the pipeline was laid, the road was not repaired. Everyone, especially the elderly, struggles to negotiate this potholed stretch,' said a local CPM leader.

But local CPM councillor Buddhadeb Bose refused to blame it on the potholes, diverting attention from the civic mess on the streets.

'It was just an accident. The CMC has just completed the work of laying pipelines and it will take time to repair the road. No one should be blamed for what happened to Bhattacharya,' stressed Bose, who has been dropped from ward no. 100 to make way for Bhattacharya's candidature.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee echoed the sitting CPM councillor. 'I think Bhattacharya was rushing to attend the election meeting when he fell accidentally and broke his leg' I believe Bhattacharya himself will not blame us for the accident,' claimed Mukherjee.

His rival, meanwhile, chose to brave the broken bone with a smile, and maybe a silent pledge to take the battle against potholes from the billboards to the streets if he unseats Mukherjee.

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