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Villagers gherao Satabdi over road

- Birbhum MP scraps rally as residents accuse her of failing to keep promise

March 15: Birbhum MP Satabdi Roy, who has been re-nominated from the seat by Trinamul, today cancelled a rally after villagers gheraoed her alleging she had not fulfilled her promise of laying a metalled road.

Party sources said that as soon as Satabdi got off her car at Bagdola village at 1pm, residents surrounded her and demanded to know why she had not taken any initiative to convert a 5km mud road in the area into a metalled one.

The road connects Bagdola with the Sainthia-Suri state highway. Sainthia, 8km away, is the nearest town to Bagdola.

“The MP tried to tell the villagers it was not possible to repair and upgrade each and every road in her constituency because of a lack of funds. She promised to convert the mud road at Bagdola into a metalled one if she was re-elected. But the villagers refused to listen and Satabdi was forced to scrap the meeting and leave,” said a Trinamul leader who was accompanying Satabdi.

The villagers said they had repeatedly urged the district administration and local Trinamul leaders to upgrade the road as it was the only one that connected Bagdola, which has a 1,000-plus population, with Sainthia.

“All our pleas fell on deaf ears. Before the 2009 elections and several times after that, the MP had promised to convert the road into a metalled one. So we today asked her what she had done for the area in the past five years,” a villager said.

Satabdi denied that she had faced protests in the village. “There was no agitation. Some villagers asked about a road. Later, I attended a meeting at Beriapur nearby,” she told The Telegraph.

The residents of Bagdola said Satabdi had gone to Beriapur, 5km away, because “she was not allowed to hold the rally”.

The public outburst against Satabdi in Bagdola is significant as she had received a handsome lead from the Sainthia Assembly segment in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. She had won Birbhum by a margin of more than 63,000 votes.

But since then, the Left has clawed its way back in Sainthia. The CPM’s Dhiren Bagdi won the seat in the 2011 Assembly elections.

Today’s incident, some Trinamul leaders said, was an indication that the actress-turned-MP would face a tough fight.

Satabdi, however, is trying to counter the Opposition by tapping into her star appeal in remote corners of Bengal.

At a rally in Suri yesterday, she said: “If you want to see my movies and jatras, you have to buy tickets. But as an MP, you can see me free of cost. So elect me once again.”