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Since 1st March, 1999
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Walkout over hooch

Calcutta, Dec. 19: Pinned with the blame of hooch deaths, the main Opposition party CPM and its partners walked out of an all-party meeting today called by the Assembly speaker Biman Banerjee to discuss strategies to counter liquor consumption.

Demanding a withdrawal of the blame and an apology from the state industries minister and Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee, the Left parties went to attend the meet. Half an hour later, the Left Front partners walked out after the ruling party remained firm on blaming CPM for the hooch deaths.

“What is the point in calling a meeting with the accused,” said CPM MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah, after walking out of the all-party meet.

The other parties who attended the meet Congress, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha and SUCI (Communist) stayed back. This was the fourth all party meeting to be held in the last six months, and the only one where the ruling party and Opposition have locked horns.

“In the 212 days of the new government, there have been at least 350 deaths… Bilaper samay prolaap (When people are lamenting, they are talking nonsense). The ruling party has accused us to shield the real perpetrators. There is video evidence to prove to which party they belong. We wanted the government to withdraw the statement and apologise but they are sticking to their stand,” said Surjya Kant Mishra, leader of Opposition.

Chatterjee ruled out taking back his words, uttered last Thursday, hours after chief minister Mamata Banerjee urged the Speaker to call an all-party meet. The hooch tragedy claimed 170 lives in South 24-Parganas’s Sangrampur since Tuesday.

Chatterjee was later on joined by central minister Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Mukul Roy to accuse the CPM of masterminding the liquor deaths to divert attention from the probe into the AMRI fire tragedy, which had exposed close ties between a section of CPM and the AMRI’s management.

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