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CPM rally drill before rural polls

Calcutta, Sept. 30: The CPM will organise a show-of-strength rally in Calcutta tomorrow in what is being perceived as a “test” of whether the party has gained lost ground before the coming panchayat elections.

The CPM, desperate in its attempt to make a turnaround in the rural polls, is bringing in cadres from several districts such as North and South 24-Parganas, Hooghly and Howrah.

The idea, according to a party leader, is to send a message to chief minister Mamata Banerjee that all is not lost for the CPM and that people who had deserted the party before last year’s Assembly polls have started returning.

“After our February 19 Brigade rally, the Esplanade turnout tomorrow would be the second biggest with hoards of people joining in from North and South 24-Parganas, Hooghly, Howrah and Calcutta. It was Gautam Deb’s (the North 24-Parganas district secretary) idea to organise the rally. He told the party leadership that such a meeting was necessary before the panchayat polls as it would be a test for whether the CPM has regained ground. Many said the test was necessary,” a CPM state secretariat member said.

Deb has put tomorrow’s possible turnout at a quarter of a million. Party leaders said the rally has been convened to protest the “worsening law and order, Trinamul’s attacks on CPM leaders and cadres in the districts, making Left-run panchayats powerless by appointing bureaucrats as heads and atrocities on women”.

The rally, scheduled to start at 1pm, will be addressed by former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, state secretary Biman Bose and leaders of other Left parties.

Asked about the inconvenience the rally cause the public, Deb said: “The rally will paralyse Esplanade and adjoining areas. We expect a crowd of about 2.5 lakh. It’s true people would be inconvenienced. But what do we do? It’s unavoidable.”

According to a source in Alimuddin Street, the CPM state secretary has taken “huge interest” in making the rally a success and, of late, has been telling Deb to ensure a “big’’ turnout on the day — all this with an eye on the panchayat polls.

“Bimanda is keen to see a massive rally. He feels that the rally should be a sort of an answer to Mamata’s July 21 rallies at Esplanade that draw big crowds every year. That’s why, he has told Gautamda to organise an impressive show,’’ the source said.

Asked about this, Deb today said: “There is a need to send Mamata a message that the CPM can still bring lakhs of people to its meetings despite the electoral rout it suffered last year.”

Industries minister Partha Chatterjee said: “Efforts to show its strength tomorrow would be futile because people won’t participate as they did for Mamata.”