The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata threatens ‘civil war’ & manages little support

Calcutta, May 12: A day after the blood-soaked election, the Opposition parties began to examine options to turn the post-poll scene to their advantage but in their own ways.

Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said the party was considering “serious steps”, including a boycott of the Assembly till the next election, mass resignations by party legislators and a bandh. The Congress and a section of the BJP called for Central intervention to restore law and order.

“The situation has come to such a pass that we have to take some firm decisions to oust the communists, whose hands have been stained with blood of innocent people,” Mamata said this afternoon.

Trinamul legislators would meet on Thursday to assess the situation, she said. “We shall decide the course of action after receiving reports from our district committees,” she added.

With Calcutta mayor Subrata Mukherjee by her side, Mamata announced that the party would launch a statewide movement demanding chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s resignation and formation of a platform of all anti-CPM forces to fight the Marxists’ “misrule”.

“Time has come for all democratic parties to unite against the CPM and build a mass movement like the one led by late Jayaprakash Narayan in the seventies. I particularly call upon Left Front partners like the RSP, the Forward Bloc and the CPI, which also fell victims to the CPM’s violence, to quit the government and join the platform for the sake of democracy,” Mamata said.

She felt “there would be a civil war” and people could take law into their hands to save themselves from the CPM’s onslaught.

But observers said she would meet with resistance from her own party if she went ahead to translate her plans into reality. In private, several Trinamul functionaries said it would be “foolish” to urge the front partners to join forces with her and to “invite” people to take the law into their hands.

Even ally and state BJP president Tathagata Roy felt it would be an exercise in futility to give a call to the front partners to desert the CPM and join a separate platform. He also did not back Mamata on her suggestion that there could be a civil war.

State Congress chief Pranab Mukherjee made it clear that the party could not join forces with Mamata as “she is part of the NDA, which was responsible for the massacre in Gujarat”.

He also criticised Mamata for talking about a civil war. “Instead of asking people to take the law into their hands, we should better go to the people and help maintain peace in disturbed areas,” said Mukherjee.

In her demand for the imposition of President’s rule, Mamata got a surprise supporter in her bete noire, Union minister of state for cottage and small-scale industries Tapan Sikdar.

“Bengal is crying for strong Central intervention as is evident from the prevailing lawlessness,” the BJP leader said.

But, going by the fragmented nature of the Opposition, it is a moot question whether the parties would be able to launch a sustainable campaign.

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