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State unit defies order with open rally

Durgapur, Jan. 18: Congress workers in Durgapur led by state party chief Pradip Bhattacharya today demonstrated in front of the sub-divisional officer’s office in defiance of orders from the high command to refrain from street protests and stick to indoor programmes.

Around 2,000 Congress workers from different parts of Durgapur marched to the SDO’s office at City Centre to protest against low paddy prices and farmer suicides.

Asked why the state unit went against the high command’s diktat, issued on January 15 to ensure that Mamata Banerjee was not antagonised, Bhattacharya said tonight: “I did not criticise either the chief minister or the state government. We just demanded proper development in Asansol and Durgapur.” He added that the state Congress would “henceforth restrict” itself to indoor programmes.

An AICC leader said the high command would seek a report from the Bengal unit. “I will ask them why the rally was organised in front of the Durgapur SDO’s office. Our primary concern at this moment is to keep the alliance intact,” he said.

At the rally, Bhattacharya said: “The chief minister is denying that farmers are committing suicide in Bengal because of low paddy prices but she is wrong. The bureaucrats may have misguided her about the farmers. We will fight for the farmers’ cause.

“The chief minister should not depend only on the bureaucrats. She should form a committee of MLAs and start an inquiry into the suicides.”