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Ousted leaders target Left vote bank

Calcutta, Aug. 7: Expelled CPM leaders Abdur Rezzak Mollah and Prasenjit Bose today pinpointed the issues to be addressed by an umbrella organisation of ousted Left members, focusing on the traditional support base of the Left — workers.

Hours after the Ganamancha, which includes platforms floated by expelled Left leaders Mollah and Bose, held its first convention, the CPM announced a similar programme at the same venue. Several ousted Left leaders from outside Bengal also attended the Ganamancha convention at Phani Bhushan Mancha in Bagbazaar.

Ganamancha leaders spoke of the need to forge a larger alliance with Left-minded parties and outfits at a time the Front has been virtually obliterated from the state and the BJP is taking decisive steps to become the principal Opposition force in Bengal.

Topping the list of demands to be raised by the Ganamancha is the reopening of factories, jute mills and tea gardens.

“Protests have to be organised outside the gates of the closed factories, hunger strikes have to be held. If required, we have to be prepared to go to jail,” said Mollah, a former minister who was expelled by the CPM before the Lok Sabha polls.

The CPM will hold a convention at the Bagbazaar auditorium on August 11. State committee member Manab Mukherjee will be the main speaker at the event.

The other demands to be made by the Ganamancha include checking price rise, providing relief to farmers, organising programmes for the welfare of minorities and Scheduled Castes, strict handling of crimes against women and arrest of those accused in the Saradha default scam.

“After 34 years in power, Left Front leaders have become lethargic. There is a stalemate. We need to build from here,” Mollah said.

Drawing attention to the Left Front’s alleged failure to protect its cadres, Bose blamed it for the rise of the BJP in Bengal.

“Public resentment is growing against the Mamata Banerjee government but the CPM has failed to capitalise on it. Left members and supporters are joining the BJP. Unless resistance grows against Trinamul, this erosion cannot be stopped,” Bose said.

Seated in the audience were Mangat Singh Pasla, a former CPM central committee member from Punjab, K.K. Rema, the wife of slain former Kerala CPM leader C.P. Chandrashekhar and expelled Tamil Nadu leader M. Arjunan.

“We are against the CPM’s attempts to compromise with the Congress and others like Mulayam Singh Yadav for electoral gains. This has to change,” said Pasla, who has formed the Punjab Communist Party after breaking away from the CPM.