Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee reached the Forward Bloc’s CR Avenue headquarters on Tuesday afternoon for the Left Front partner’s Nava Varsha celebrations but could not attend the programme as the elevator that would have taken him to the first-floor hall was out of order. After waiting for about a minute, the former chief minister, who suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and avoids climbing stairs, left. Front leaders and workers said they felt sad because he was the “star attraction” at the event.
Bloc veteran Asok Ghosh inaugurated the programme at 3.30pm in the presence of the CPM’s Surjya Kanta Mishra, RSP state secretary Kshiti Goswami and his CPI counterpart Manju Kumar Majumdar. Between songs and dances, Ghosh kept telling the audience that Bhattacharjee was on his way. The former chief minister’s car pulled up in front of the Bloc office at 5.15pm.
Bhattacharjee got off the car and proceed towards Hemanta Basu Bhavan, which houses the Bloc office. After reaching the elevator, he found it was not working. The lift had been functioning when Ghosh, 93, took it around 3.30pm. As everyone was busy with the programme, no senior Bloc leader was free to address the problem.
Bhattacharjee waited for a minute or so, but when he realised that the lift could not be repaired immediately, he turned around to leave. Some Bloc supporters tried to intervene, but the former chief minister left promising that he would speak to “Asokda” later. CPM sources said Bhattacharjee didn’t want to disturb anyone and so, left silently.
Bloc leaders blamed themselves for Bhattacharjee missing the programme, where those who attended took the vow to further strengthening Front unity.
Did Bhattacharjee’s no-show hurt the objective?
“No, no. He had come here but left as the elevator was not working and he couldn’t take the stairs,” said Debabrata Biswas, the Bloc all-India general secretary.
Report by Barun Ghosh, pictures by Anup Bhattacharya
Lok Sabha poll contestants (from top) Rahul Sinha (BJP candidate for Calcutta North), Asim Dasgupta (CPM nominee for Dum Dum) and Prasun Banerjee (Trinamul candidate for Howrah) mingled with voters in their constituencies on Nava Varsha