The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal assures Advani scan after Mamata cry

New Delhi, April 20: Mamata Banerjee and BJP president Venkaiah Naidu today called on the Prime Minister and wangled an assurance that he will ask his deputy, L.K. Advani, to look into the situation in Bengal in the run-up to the rural polls.

The BJP and Trinamul have decided to raise the issue in both Houses of Parliament in a big way tomorrow, sources said.

The decision was taken at a meeting the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister had with Mamata and Naidu.

Mamata and Naidu complained to the Prime Minister that the CPM cadre had “unleashed a reign of terror in the state” and had prevented Opposition parties from filing nominations in about a fifth of the gram panchayat seats.

Addressing a joint news conference earlier, the Trinamul Congress chief and Naidu demanded that the poll process in 18,000 gram panchayat seats should start afresh.

They repeated the allegations of their state leaders — that the CPM had prevented their candidates from filing nominations. The last date for filling the papers for the 49,144 gram panchayat seats in the state was April 16. The polling will take place on May 11.

Trinamul and BJP MPs will keep raising the issue in Parliament if the state government does not respond to their demand to declare polls in a fifth of the seats null and void.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had himself requested the CPM cadre to allow candidates from other parties file nominations. The BJP chief described the chief minister’s admission of the fact that not everything was fine in the run-up to the poll as an indicator to the “violence perpetrated by the CPM”.

Naidu added that the CPM had a “history of resorting to violence” during polls. “Earlier, they would resort to violence on the day of polling. Now they have adopted a strategy of not allowing other candidates file nominations.” The BJP chief also alleged that the administration was hand-in-glove with the CPM. “The CPM is converting a democratic exercise into a farce. Are we in Stalinist years, or a democracy'” he asked.

Mamata said the CPM was sparing not even women candidates. The Trinamul chief refused to take questions on the chances of a comeback to the Union Cabinet.

“Houses of our candidates have been set on fire, some have been assaulted and threatened, forcing them out of villages. Some women candidates have been paraded naked while heavy fines have been levied on some others,” she said, adding that the terror tactics were aimed at preventing them from contesting.

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