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Courtesy vs criticism

Calcutta, Jan. 16: Mamata Banerjee today took the battle to Surjya Kanta Mishra’s constituency while the Opposition leader took the healing touch to the beds of Trinamul leaders Rabindranath Bhattacharya and Firhad Hakim.

Mishra first visited disgruntled Trinamul leader and former minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya at Belle Vue Clinic. At the hospital, the CPM leader came to know that minister Hakim was also admitted there and visited him too.

After the visit, Mishra, who is also a doctor, said: “I went there to visit Rabindranathbabu and to enquire about his health. He is a senior person… and a gentleman.

“After reaching the hospital, I was told that Bobby Hakim is also admitted there. So I visited him too. He’s fine now.”

On January 13, Bhattacharya, 80, fell unconscious after taking a glass of coconut water. Hakim is suffering from a stomach infection.

A Trinamul minister said Mishra’s courtesy call was a “mature step expected of a responsible Opposition leader”.

However, food minister Jyotipriya Mallick, who had earlier called for a social boycott of the CPM, said: “By making the visits, I think Mishra wanted to reap political mileage.”

At a government programme in West Midnapore’s Belda, part of Mishra’s Narayangarh Assembly constituency, Mamata appeared to take swipes at the CPM leader.

Mamata did not take Mishra’s name but made references to him and the CPM.

“How many hospitals and primary teacher training institutes were opened in 35 years? They did some for their kin,” Mamata said, referring to charges of nepotism and corruption that Trinamul had levelled against Mishra earlier.

Mamata also appeared critical of Mishra’s performance as health minister.

“The CPM is asking why workers of the scheme, ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist), are not being made permanent. The health department was under him, why didn’t he do it?” she asked.

Anarchy complaint

The state CPM leadership will tell the central committee tomorrow about “Trinamul anarchy’’ in the districts.