The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RSP minister skips Buddha rally in Hili

Raiganj/ Balurghat, April 27: As an undeterred Biswanath Chowdhury pushed on with the RSP’s panchayat campaigns in Hili, the Forward Bloc today stayed away from Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s rally in neighbouring North Dinajpur district, highlighting the gaping chinks in the Left Front’s rusty armour.

The chief minister, addressing what was billed as a “Left Front” rally at Durgapur for the May 11 polls, expressed regret at the Bloc’s absence.

“It is unfortunate. It would have been better if the Forward Bloc was with us,’’ he said.

Bhattacharjee, however, tried to put on a brave front. “The Left Front is not an NDA, forged by opportunist parties to win elections. Ours is the result of a long struggle and no one can break up the front,” he said.

Both relief minister Hafiz Alam Sairani, the Bloc’s North Dinajpur secretary, and party MLA Gokul Roy stayed away from the chief minister’s rally.

Though present at the meeting, RSP leaders sounded critical of the CPM for failing to take its allies along in the panchayat poll. “It’s unfortunate that we are not contesting this poll as a Left Front,” RSP district secretary Jyotish Sarkar said, as Bhattacharjee listened.

Chowdhury, the state jail minister, who was supposed to be at the rally, was conspicuously absent. A day after he accused the CPM of disrupting his rally at Hili’s Barowaritala, Chowdhury carried on with his panchayat campaigns in the district.

“This election will prove whether people support the politics of violence or politics of peace,” he said, shortly before he left for the border villages in Hili.

Chowdhury said the RSP was a “peaceful” party. “Otherwise, the 10 to 15 people who disrupted our rally could not have gone back unhurt.”

Though the district administration offered to beef up his security in view of the incident, the jail minister declined. He said he had not lodged a police complaint either.

“There is no doubt that it’s a reprehensible incident. But how can I seek justice for myself when we are supposed to provide justice to people who have put the Left Front in power,” he said.

Referring to the disruption of his rally, the jail minister said he would ask the front’s district and state committees to “contain the politics of violence”.

After talks on alliance broke down, the CPM and the RSP are fighting each other in many gram panchayats in the district.

The South Dinajpur district magistrate and superintendent of police today started visiting the sensitive gram panchayats to take stock of the situation.

Superintendent of police Gyanwant Singh said they might raise the number of sensitive booths once the “spot inquiries” are complete. He has ordered all police stations in the district to provide security to the ministers on the campaign trail.

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