The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha tour opens CPM crack

Midnapore (West Midnapore), Sept. 24: The faction-ridden district CPM was on the boil today over chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visit tomorrow.

Functionaries owing allegiance to the factions dominated by health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra and district secretary Dipak Sarkar, respectively, were drawing up strategies through the day on how best Bhattacharjee could be monopolised by one faction to humiliate the other, party officials indicated.

The jockeying for power by the two factions is well known as is Alimuddin Street’s inability to discipline the trouble-makers, who have managed to stand tall despite several attempts in the recent past to downsize them.

The fissures in the district CPM escape alien eyes. But evidence of the growing tension — much to the discomfort of the bosses at the Alimuddin Street headquarters — lies in the way Mishra and Sarkar are trying to keep away from each other’s functions to be attended by the chief minister. Functionaries belonging to the factions are expected to follow their cue. “Never before has our disunity became so stark on such an occasion,” said a party official.

Bhattacharjee, accompanied by the health minister, is going to attend the 125th anniversary celebrations of the Baramohanpur Higher Secondary School and then inaugurate a school for deaf-and-dumb children, Sathee, a brainchild of Mishra’s wife, Usha, at Khakurda, nearly 50 km from here. Sarkar will not be available for the two functions where Mishra is accompanying the chief minister. Similarly, as soon as the first half of Bhattacharjee’s trip ends and he enters Sarkar’s territory, Mishra moves out of the team and Sarkar takes over.

In the second half of his trip, the chief minister moves on to Salboni to inaugurate a Rs 26-crore project of a private asbestos factory. He is joined by the district secretary on his way to attend the inauguration of an indoor stadium and a district planning office.

A party member and organiser of the school anniversary programme, Sisir Mahapatra, argued that it is not necessary for both leaders to accompany the chief minister. “I am not sure, but they may have some engagements of their own. It may also be noted that the day after, Kanti Biswas, the school education minister, will be coming to the same venue and both Mishra and Sarkar, along with Nandarani Dal, a minister, will attend the programme,” he said.

But party workers in the district seem confused. “The fact that Mishra is not attending the opening ceremony of the district planning office is rather unusual as he was the sabhadipati of this zilla parishad before he became minister. There is another important point to be noted: M.V. Rao, the district magistrate, is out of station and there is no possibility of his coming back in the next couple of days. Inspite of that, his name was mentioned on the notice as the ‘guest of honour’. Sarkar could easily have invited Mishra, but the differences between the two have come out in the open and are there for everyone to see. They will not be comfortable in each other’s company,” claimed the local party official.

The district police have beefed up security as only a couple of days ago, a Peoples’ War activist was arrested and two rifles and 10 rounds of munitions were recovered from him in the area. Gautam Chakraborty, inspector-general (western range), said in addition to the district police, officials of the special combat force will be deployed.

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