The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RSP pullout roar after rally blow

Calcutta, April 26: Smarting under the humiliation of alleged CPM supporters forcing party leader and minister Biswanath Chowdhury to call off a rally on his home turf at Hilli in South Dinajpur yesterday, the RSP today threatened to pull out of the government.

“Enough is enough. Things have come to such a pass that we will have to think afresh whether to stick on with the (ruling Left) Front or not,” said RSP state secretary and former irrigation minister Debabrata Bandopadhayay. After getting the details from the jails and social welfare minister, the party has spoken to chief minister Budhhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose, the Left Front chairman.

“This is a very serious matter and we have convened an emergency secretariat meeting on Monday to discuss the matter. This is unbecoming of the CPM with which we have been sharing power for over 26 years,” Bandopadhyay added.

Bhattacharjee has apparently spoken to Chowdhury at his Balurghat residence to assuage his “bruised feelings”. Alimuddin Street has sought a report from the South Dinajpur unit and decided to hold a bipartite meeting with the RSP at the earliest.

Chowdhury, a minister for the fifth time and senior RSP central secretariat member, called newspaper offices from Hilli last night to complain that a group of CPM men had asked him to call off a rally organised in support of RSP candidates.

While the chief minister sought to calm Chowdhury in private, his party publicly dismissed the minister’s allegations. “As far as I know, the RSP was holding a party meeting at Hilli and the trouble started when some villagers started questioning the lack of development in the area. I was told that some hot exchanges took place between the villagers and RSP workers,” party state secretary Anil Biswas said.

He told a press conference at the party office that the involvement of CPM workers was beyond question “since it was not a Left Front meeting”. “How can our party supporters get involved when it was only the RSP’s programme'” he asked.

Sunil Sengupta, a senior RSP functionary, asserted that Chowdhury had no intention of maligning the CPM. “The CPM is desperate to prove the allegation false since last night’s incident must have tarnished the party’s image in the rural belt in the run-up to the panchayat elections,” he said.

“If the CPM does not spare the Front constituents, imagine what is in store for the Opposition parties in the coming days. The way the CPM candidates are getting elected unopposed in a large number of seats is indicative of the party’s terror tactics,” he observed.

No-contest winners

The state election commissioner today said of the 6,283 candidates already elected unopposed to panchayat posts, 5,897 were affiliated to the CPM. Only 8 were of the Trinamul Congress.

The CPI and the Forward Bloc won 165 and 126 seats, respectively, similarly. The Congress has captured 12 seats uncontested.

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