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CPM voters put on BJP ‘shield’

BJP flags tied to a bamboo pole in minority-dominated Adampur. Picture by Rinku Mandal

Burdwan, May 18: The votes went to the CPM but the flags fluttering outside homes in minority-dominated Adampur are the BJP’s.

The reason for putting up the BJP flags was to escape the Trinamul Congress’s beatings, a CPM supporter said. Such is the desperate state of the Left in Bengal that its supporters — or perhaps defectors, as a CPM leader said — think that pretending to be BJP loyalists may make Trinamul activists “think twice” before thrashing them.

The residents’ move could have been a panic reaction prompted by an alleged Trinamul raid in the village on the result day, when activists of the state’s ruling party ransacked at least a dozen homes.

Figures show Adampur had given the CPM leads in two booths by 48 and 142 votes, though it was clear early on Friday that Trinamul’s Sunil Mondal was on course to win the Burdwan East seat, which he did by over a lakh votes.

Raina II block, of which Adampur is a part, is Muslim-dominated. The other booths in Raina II gave Trinamul the lead, as has been the voting pattern in many parts of the state. Huge chunks of the minority votes in Bengal, once the mainstay of the Left, appear to have eluded the Front as Muslims have chosen to vote overwhelmingly for Trinamul and the Congress.

“We knew that police would not come to our rescue. We contacted the zonal committee secretary of Raina, Akhtar Ali, who advised us to stay cautious. But he could hardly offer a solution. It occurred to us that if we project ourselves as BJP supporters, Trinamul workers would at least think twice before attacking us,” said one of the villagers, who did not want to be named fearing attacks.

The villagers hid all the red CPM flags and put up the BJP flags in various places. They also brought out a procession on Friday evening hailing the victory of Narendra Modi.

“Getting about 250 BJP flags wasn’t easy. We contacted our party workers in Shyamsundarpur, about 25km away, where there is a big marketplace and learnt that BJP flags were available there. We sent party supporters to Shyamsundarpur market and bought the BJP flags. They had to be carried in jute bags by party workers on motorcycles,” the resident said.

Another villager said: “We would like the party to do something about our security. We will wait till May 24 to see what the party does for us. After that, we will switch to the BJP.”

Asked whether the villagers were really posing as BJP supporters, CPM zonal committee secretary Ali said: “We have information that fearing attacks from Trinamul, some of our workers and supporters are trying to switch over to the BJP. This is a dangerous trend. We have already taken it up with the district party leadership.”

Basudeb Khan, the CPM MLA from Raina, could not be contacted.

Burdwan BJP district general secretary Sandip Nandi said: “The villagers took the right decision to save themselves.” He said the BJP would ensure their protection from Trinamul attacks if they had no criminal background and would welcome if anyone wanted to join the party.

Ansar Ali Mondal, the Raina-II block president of Trinamul, denied the charge of the raid in Adampur. “We never attacked anybody nor did our men threaten anybody. The CPM supporters are defecting to the BJP as they have no future,” he said.

A senior police officer said no one had lodged a complaint. “Unless a written complaint is lodged we have nothing to do,” the officer said.