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Trinamul’s 9-day protest

Calcutta, Jan. 8: The Trinamul Congress will hit the streets from Thursday to “counter the campaign” by the CPM and the Congress against the ruling party.

Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee today accused the two main Opposition parties of trying to disturb peace and create anarchy in the state. He announced a nine-day programme to counter the charges.

“From January 10 to 18, our party workers will hold meetings and rallies throughout the state to protest against the conspiracy of the CPM and the Congress to destabilise the state. They are jealous. People who want development and the good of the state are invited to attend our rallies,” the industries minister said after a two-hour meeting with chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Writers’.

The meeting was convened hurriedly after reports of a clash at Bamanghata in South 24-Parganas’ Bhangar between CPM and Trinamul workers. The Trinamul offensive was allegedly led by controversial Bhangar leader Arabul Islam.

Chatterjee said after the meeting that the party would firmly back Arabul.

He also showered praise on Arabul, accused of leading Sunday’s attack on CPM leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah. “He (Arabul) is very energetic. Rezzak-er sange larai korte to Judhishthir diye hobe na (to fight against someone like Mollah, you don’t need a Yudhishthir),” Chatterjee said.

The minister said there were complaints against Mollah too. “He is giving provocative statements from the hospital bed,” Chatterjee said at a brief news conference at Writers’, flanked by ministers Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim and Aroop Biswas.

Trinamul’s Mukul Roy will lead a march at Bamanghata tomorrow morning to protest today’s “attack by the CPM”.

“The rallies (from January 10) will be taken out every day across the state after 6pm so that common people don’t face any harassment. On January 18, a grand rally will be taken out. The venue and time is yet to be decided,” Chatterjee said.

“Arabul had to be hospitalised. Ten of our supporters were also injured. This is happening not just in Bhangar but in other places as well . Our workers have to be alert,” he added.

A section of the Trinamul leadership, however said on condition of anonymity that the party should have stepped in earlier and restrained Arabul.

“The situation is gradually spinning out of control. Arabul should have been warned long back. This is encouraging other party leaders to act in a dangerous manner,” a minister said. “There is a feeling that any action against Arabul will have an impact on the minority support base,” the minister added.

This section referred to recent instances of state ministers and organisational heads “crossing the line” of political decency, such as food minister Jyotipriya Mullick calling for a social boycott of the CPM and Trinamul Chhatra Parishad state president Shankudeb Panda gheraoing the Calcutta University vice-chancellor yesterday.

“If state ministers and senior leaders go scot-free by doing things that are virtually criminal, these things are bound to happen,” a senior MP said.