The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Partners boycott Buddha rallies
Bhattacharjee: Standing alone

Behrampore (Murshidabad), May 4: The Left Front façade suffered another crack before the May 11 panchayat polls with three major partners, the Forward Bloc, CPI and the RSP, boycotting two rallies of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the district.

Justifying the decision to stay away from the rallies at Salar and at Bharatpur — both under the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury — district RSP secretary Biswanath Banerjee said: “Why should we attend the meeting' It was not organised under the banner of the Left Front. It was the CPM’s party gathering and we have decided not to join the rallies.” The RSP is contesting against the CPM in hundreds of seats in the district.

Manik Mandal, Banerjee’s counterpart in the district CPI, echoed him. “We were not informed about the meeting. We were not invited to attend Bhattacharjee’s meetings in our district. Naturally, we decided not to attend any of the meetings. Moreover, we have our own programmes and only seven days to go before the panchayat polls,” he said.

Relations among the Front constituents have caught a chill after some alleged CPM activists forced RSP leader and jail minister Biswanath Chowdhury to call off a meeting at Hili in South Dinajpur recently.

The minister lodged an official complaint with the chief minister and the RSP state leadership, after which the party threatened to pull out of the government. But no steps have been taken. The CPM has not identified the men involved in the incident. Since then, several Front constituents have boycotted Bhattacharjee’s meetings in different districts.

But the chief minister seemed unaffected as he announced a host of decisions his government is going to take to improve panchayats. “We are now sanctioning 50 per cent of our budget for the panchayats. We plan to increase the share for better functioning of the panchayats.”

Bhattacharjee also announced the setting up of a fruit-processing unit in Jangipur and introduction of some schemes to help farmers better their lives.

“Seventy-two per cent of our farmers are poor. We have to chalk out some effective plans to help them improve their living conditions,” the chief minister announced.

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