Stones and bricks jut out of the Howrah road that the Rudrapur residents want repaired. Picture by Gopal Senapati
Howrah, April 17: A farmer who identified himself as a “hardcore Trinamul activist” today accused Kalyan Banerjee, the Trinamul candidate for the Serampore Lok Sabha seat, of slapping him when he protested the poor condition of a road in Howrah.
Banerjee, who was also accused of catching another Trinamul activist by the collar while campaigning in Howrah’s Jagatballavpur, dismissed the allegation and said the CPM had hatched a “conspiracy” to malign him. “The allegation that I slapped a person and caught another by the collar is absolutely false. This is a conspiracy by a section of CPM activists to malign me,” he said.
Banerjee, the sitting MP of Serampore who has been re-nominated, said those who stopped his convoy and protested were “CPM activists”.
Pradip Makal, the 40-year-old farmer who accused Banerjee of slapping him, said: “When Banerjee saw me putting up a bamboo barricade, he got off his jeep and slapped and abused me. I am a hardcore Trinamul activist. We have nothing to do with the CPM.”
Banerjee’s convoy — the MP was on a jeep and was being trailed by around eight Ambassadors — had just taken the 7km road to reach Rudrapur when residents of the village put up the barricade. They surrounded Banerjee’s jeep and said repeated appeals to the administration, including the Serampore MP, to repair the road had fallen on deaf ears. The protesters said the road had last been repaired two-and-a-half years ago.
Pradip Makal told this correspondent later that the surface of the road, which connects Rudrapur to the Howrah-Amta state highway, had been washed away by rain, and bricks and stones were jutting out. “It is difficult for us to travel in autorickshaws and cycles on the road,” Pradip Makal added.
The protesters said most of them were either Trinamul activists or supporters.
Samiran Makal, 21, another farmer who lives in Rudrapur, said: “I am a Trinamul supporter. Kalyanda caught me by the collar. This is unacceptable. We were protesting because our long-standing demand to repair the road has not been addressed.”
The protesters said they did not lodge a police complaint. “We have decided to take up the matter with senior leaders instead,” said an elderly man who took part in the protest.
A Trinamul leader said that before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Banerjee had used “derogatory words” while referring to former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visits to Nandan.