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Malay admits Babul mistake
‘Failure’ to foresee BJP surge

Asansol, May 22: Malay Ghatak today cited Trinamul’s decision to bring grave charges against Asansol BJP candidate Babul Supriyo and its failure to foresee the Hindi-speaking population’s support for the BJP as reasons that contributed to the Bengal ruling party nominee’s defeat.

Ghatak, who resigned as agriculture minister and the Burdwan (industrial) Trinamul chairman, appeared critical of the delay by two rival camp-led civic bodies in implementing water supply projects. The Asansol North MLA said “complacency” of grassroots workers was also behind Dola Sen’s defeat and denied allegations of sabotage against him and his aides.

Ghatak held a meeting with local Trinamul leaders in Asansol today, but several, including some seen as his loyalists, stayed away.

After the meeting, Ghatak told this correspondent: “It is true that I had to resign as minister and from party posts after the election result, but the charges of sabotage and non-cooperation against me are not true. We failed to understand the mood of the Hindi-speaking population in Asansol. We also took wrong steps such as lodging a police complaint under the Arms Act and bringing other charges against the BJP candidate. This gave him publicity and earned him sympathy.”

“Grassroots workers had become complacent and over-confident,” added Ghatak.

Supriyo, who won by over 70,000 votes, had been booked in six cases, including one under the Arms Act, one for a highway blockade and another for allegedly campaigning in an inebriated state.

Trinamul sources said the party had failed to foresee that the lion’s share of the 40 per cent Hindi-speaking electorate’s votes in Asansol would go to the BJP. This section used to vote mostly in favour of the CPM till 2011, when the tide turned in favour of Trinamul.

The sources said Trinamul had failed to foresee that the votes would go in favour of the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

Ghatak and his brother Abhijit, who has resigned as the chief of the Trinamul Youth Congress in Asansol, returned to the town from Calcutta last night.

“I have found out another reason for the debacle — the drinking water crisis. The Centre-funded projects to supply drinking water to the Asansol and Kulti municipal areas are yet to take off. This had a negative impact on the elections as both civic bodies are controlled by Trinamul,” Ghatak said.

Asansol mayor Tapas Banerjee and Kulti municipality chairman Ujjwal Chatterjee belong to Ghatak’s rival camp, the party sources said. Neither attended today’s meeting.