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Buddha at critic Mollah’s bedside
Thank you, with hands clasped

Bhattacharjee talks to Mollah at a private hospital off EM Bypass on Friday. CPM leaders Kanti Ganguly and Sujan Chakraborty accompanied the former chief minister

Calcutta, Jan. 11: Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was today at the bedside of Abdur Rezzak Mollah, his persistent critic, now in hospital after an attack on him by alleged Trinamul supporters.

CPM MLA Mollah, who repeatedly gave caustic bites on Bhattacharjee’s industrialisation drive when he was the chief minister, today clasped Bhattacharjee’s hand and thanked him for visiting.

“You need not have come to the hospital. But I am happy you are here. I thank you,’’ a CPM source quoted Mollah as telling Bhattacharjee in a private hospital off EM Bypass.

On January 6, Mollah was assaulted allegedly by a group of Trinamul supporters, led by local strongman Arabul Islam, when he was on his way to Kantatala in South 24-Parganas to inspect a CPM office that had been burnt down by workers of the ruling party the previous night.

Today, Bhattacharjee did not speak to journalists outside the hospital but the CPM’s South 24-Parganas secretary, Sujan Chakraborty, said: “Buddhada was worried after hearing that Rezzak Mollah has a pain in the hip. The doctor has advised him not to walk.’’

Chakraborty added: “Buddhada told Rezzakda to follow the doctor’s advice. He also spoke with the doctor for an update on Rezzakda’s health.”

Several CPM leaders, who termed the visit a “good gesture”, also said Bhattacharjee’s act had more to do with the party’s political compulsions, particularly when the rural polls were months away.

According to party sources, the CPM wants to capitalise on the attack on Mollah in the run-up to the rural polls. Bhattacharjee, being a CPM politburo member and one of the seniormost leaders, was advised by party state secretary Biman Bose to “do the needful”, a source added.

Asked to clarify, a CPM leader said: “It (the visit) wasn’t just a gesture. It was also a political responsibility Buddhada discharged. The panchayat elections are nearing and it’s the duty of a senior leader such as Buddhada to stand by a prominent face in the South 24-Parganas unit.”

Bhattacharjee’s hospital visit today follows his participation in Wednesday’s Left Front rally that was brought out to protest the alleged Trinamul attack on Mollah. The former chief minister, who was said to have health problems, walked a bit and then stood and saw the entire Left procession pass through Esplanade.

Bhattacharjee and Mollah have had testy ties in the recent years. After the Left’s defeat in the 2011 Assembly polls, Mollah had criticised Bhattacharjee’s industrialisation policy.

Hele dhorte pare na, keute dhorte gechhe (one who cannot catch a harmless snake went to grab a poisonous one),’’ Mollah had said shortly after the poll results were declared.

He had also been critical of former industries minister and CPM politburo member Nirupam Sen in this regard, describing him as “nater guru (the villain of the piece)’’.

After the Left’s poor show in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Mollah had remarked that the people of Bengal no longer wanted the CPM in power.

The CPM MLA was later summoned to Alimuddin Street, warned against making negative comments in public.

Arabul released

Arabul Islam, the Trinamul former MLA accused of leading an attack on Abdur Rezzak Mollah on January 6, was released from a Rajarhat nursing home on Friday evening. He has lodged a complaint with Baguiati police alleging that he got threat calls on his cellphone during his stay at the nursing home.