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Mamata, CPM set for Salim collision

Calcutta Oct. 18: Mamata Banerjee and the ruling CPM rolled up their sleeves for a street fight on Thursday when Salim Group boss Benny Santoso arrives in the city.

A day after the Trinamul Congress chief threatened a “bandh-like” situation during the visit, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas vowed to ensure smooth movement for Santoso and his team from the Indonesian giant.

Santoso is to meet chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his officials at Writers’ Buildings to take forward talks on investment proposals, and might also visit the site identified for setting up a two-wheeler manufacturing plant at Uluberia during his two-day visit.

“Overseeing law and order is the administration’s business, but we (CPM cadre) will not sit idle if we find the administration or the police have come under Trinamul attack,” Biswas said.

“We have no problem if they (Trinamul) stage peaceful demonstrations because in a democratic set-up, everyone has the right to express dissent. Mamata’s Trinamul will have to face the consequences if they are found to be provoking the police or letting loose anarchy in the name of ‘peaceful’ demonstration. Our people will not look the other way.”

Mamata retaliated, saying: “If a single Trinamul worker is touched either by the CPM or the administration for participating in peaceful demonstrations, I will be constrained to go for a bigger movement next day.

“My people will demonstrate across Bengal for three hours from noon and stop the Salim group from moving about in the city and from visiting the sites for its projects identified at the cost of our poor farmers.”

Bhattacharjee, who was singled out for attack by Mamata for his initiative on the proposed Salim ventures, dismissed her threats. “Bengal is poised for industrial rejuvenation, it is immaterial whether Trinamul wants it or not. As far as my administration is concerned, Thursday will be just another day,” he said.

But the chief secretary, the home secretary and police bosses spent the day putting in place measures to counter Mamata’s plans. The administration decided to regulate traffic along VIP and Jessore roads, maintain vigil at Teghoria, Kaikhali, the approach to New Town, Rajarhat and Noapara, throw cordons round Nalban, Sulonguri, EM Bypass and Salt Lake, and deploy Rapid Action Force and city and state police personnel along the routes to be used by the Salim team.

“We are not ruling out trouble during their stay,” home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy said. “Mamata has said she would be herself leading the demonstration, you cannot take chances with her party.”

Mamata said she was pro-development and would cooperate with the government if it roped in “genuine industrialists” like Mukesh Ambani and took measures to protect the interests of farmers. “Salim is not a genuine entity,” she said.

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