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In Anubrata hub, rebels at BJP door

Bolpur, June 29: Six rebel Trinamul panchayat members in the Birbhum village where Anubrata Mondal had last year instructed party cadres to burn down houses of dissidents have decided to join the BJP, following alleged threats by ruling party workers.

Hriday Ghosh, whose father Sagar Ghosh was killed four days after district Trinamul president Mondal made the hate speech last July, will also join the BJP at a programme tomorrow.

Hriday and other Trinamul dissidents had contested the panchayat polls last year as Independents after being denied party tickets. Although Hriday lost, the six, who have decided to join the BJP, won and became members of the 12-seat Kasba panchayat board.

As the remaining six members of the board were from Trinamul, a lottery was done under the supervision of a district official to choose the pradhan. Shankari Das, the candidate put up by the Trinamul dissidents, won the lottery and got control of the panchayat.

“We are facing threats from followers of Anubrata Mondal. The pressure to join the Trinamul Congress is mounting. We are finding it difficult to run the panchayat as Independents. We were all Trinamul workers but were not getting recognition. We have decided to join the BJP because we want a political identity. We don’t want to go back to the Trinamul Congress,” Das said.

The six Independent panchayat board members and Hriday will join the BJP at a programme tomorrow. The event will be attended by Birbhum BJP president Dudh Kumar Mondal.

District Trinamul chief Mondal said he had “no interest” in the Independents’ decision to join the BJP.

“Those who have decided to join the BJP do not belong to our party. I have no interest in them,” Anubrata Mondal said.

Although Trinamul has won both the Birbhum and Bolpur Lok Sabha seats by huge margins, the BJP got substantial leads in several wards. The improved performance of the BJP has worried Trinamul and has prompted it to allegedly delay the civic poll to the Sainthia municipality.

Other than Kasba, there are four gram panchayats within 15km that are controlled by rebel Trinamul leaders who contested the rural polls as Independents last year. They are Siyan-Muluk, Bahiri-Panchsoa, Singi and Kankalitala.

Das’s husband Nimai, a Trinamul dissident who had campaigned aggressively for the Independents last year, said today: “There is no alternative for us but to join the BJP. Trinamul has unleashed terror on us. They have implicated some of us and our followers in false criminal cases.”

Cases of attempt to murder and assault have been lodged against Hriday and some of the Independent gram panchayat members. Several supporters of the Trinamul dissidents were arrested within months of the panchayat polls in July last year.

Bombs were also hurled near Hriday’s house and those belonging to some of his supporters in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

On July 21 last year, Sagar Ghosh was shot dead in his house allegedly by Trinamul workers four days after Anubrata Mondal had instructed party cadres at a public meeting to burn down houses of Independent candidates and hurl bombs at police if they came to the rescue.

The murder is being probed by a special investing team under the supervision of the high court.

Hriday today said: “We were annoyed with the party after deserving candidates were not given Trinamul tickets for the panchayat polls. Since then, we are being threatened with dire consequences. Bombs are being hurled at the homes of our followers.”

District BJP president Dudh Kumar Mondal said this evening that the rebel Trinamul members “have already spoken to us about joining our party”.

“Tomorrow, I will be present at the programme which has been organised in Bidyadharpur village,” he said.

The BJP controls two gram panchayat boards in Birbhum — Mayureswar and Kundala gram in Mayureswar blocks, about 50km from Kasba.

BJP general secretary, organisation, Amal Chatterjee tonight said the party was at the helm of the administration in at least 45 of the total 3,351 gram panchayats across Bengal. However, the BJP does not control any panchayat samiti or zilla parishad in the state.