| Left Front councillors surround the chair and table reserved for the chairman in the civic House. They later fought a pitched battle with their Trinamul Congress counterparts. Picture by D.P. Sinha
Clashes broke out between the Trinamul Congress and opposition Left Front councillors at the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) on Wednesday, with CMC chairman Anil Mukherjee sustaining injuries in the head and on the chin.
The Left councillors barricaded the council chamber to prevent Mukherjee, 70, who is close to Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee, from entering. They were protesting his refusal to convene a special meeting for a fuller debate on the June assault on municipal commissioner Debasish Som by Trinamul councillors.
However, if Som had been lucky enough to escape with minor bruises, Mukherjee was not, as Front councillors singled him out and rained blows on him from all directions. The assault occurred shortly after 1 pm, and the entire House turned into a battlefield.
The Trinamul councillors, who had no inkling of what had happened, came to Mukherjee’s rescue, but not till he had collapsed on the floor, clutching his head in pain.
After another 10-minute scuffle between the Trinamul and Front councillors, when Mukherjee received a few more blows, Trinamul members whisked him out of the House and drove him to a nursing home. Before he was taken away, Mukherjee declared feebly that “all items have been passed” for the day.
Later, attending doctors said he was still suffering from trauma, but luckily, he did not receive any internal injuries. “His blood pressure had shot up and he has sustained injuries on his chin, but he is out of danger,” said doctors in the evening.
Eyewitnesses said Mukherjee was taken completely by surprise, and neither the Trinamul nor the Intelligence Branch officers had any idea that Left Front members had decided to agitate and prevent him from entering the council chamber.
Left Front councillors, led by leader of the opposition Nirmal Mukherjee, had put up barricades at the doors of the chamber much before the session had started.
A scuffle between Trinamul councillors and their Left counterparts spun out of control when the former tried to push back the CPM councillors from the seat reserved for the civic chairman.
At one point of time, Trinamul councillor Paresh Pal took off his shoes and aimed at CPM councillor Chhatu Chaudhury. CPM councillor Faiz Khan scuffled with Trinamul councillor Arup Biswas inside the House.
“If we had the slightest idea about their plans, we would have taken our seats in the House an hour before the session,” said Trinamul chief whip Aparna Neogi, while councillors Arup Biswas, Firhad Hakim and Debasis Kumar admitted they had been caught unawares.