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Cong burns CM effigy

Calcutta, Oct. 1: Congress workers today burnt an effigy and masks of Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Hazra, not far from her home, ignoring the state party president’s requests not to do so.

Over 2,000 Congress supporters today walked 5km from the Birla Planetarium to the Hazra crossing, where the 2.30pm rally was held to protest the chief minister’s “meaningless opposition” to FDI in multi-brand retail.

State Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya stopped midway in his speech and asked the dozen-odd party workers from Burrabazar not to burn the effigy and masks. But his request fell on deaf ears.

A rally organiser said the mode of protest was the “outburst of Congress workers’ pent-up grievances against the chief minister for her ill-treatment of party supporters in Bengal”. “We can’t help it,” Santosh Pathak said.

He thanked the Congress workers for “mustering the courage” to burn the chief minister’s effigy in her Assembly constituency —Bhowanipore.

The Congress workers’ action angered Trinamul leaders.

Industries minister and Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said: “We have taken strong exception to the manner in which some Congress workers burnt Mamata’s effigy. This is unprecedented. The people of Bengal will give a fitting reply to the Congress for belittling Mamata.”

A Trinamul MP from Delhi said Mamata, who led a Trinamul dharna against the Centre’s policies at Jantar Mantar, had “expressed her anguish” at the mode of protest.

“Mamata will soon lead a protest in Calcutta against the Congress’s anti-people policies,” he said.

At the Hazra rally, Bhattacharya said the leadership would on Wednesday announce a series of protests. “We will organise protests in the districts and advise people not to be misled by Mamata’s meaningless campaign against FDI in retail,” he said.

He added the Congress might call a Bangla bandh, if necessary.

Congress spokesperson Abdul Mannan, who also addressed the gathering, alleged that those who participated in Mamata’s dharna “belong to the BJP and the RSS”.