The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata back with rally bang

Calcutta, Oct. 21: If you were surprised by the ruling Left Front’s recalcitrant response to Justice Amitava Lala’s order on rallies, you hadn’t yet heard Mamata Banerjee.

Surfacing from hibernation in Delhi, the Trinamul Congress leader today announced she would campaign against the state government. How' Through rallies — that’s how.

And hospitals would not be spared either.

“Let deaths of patients due to negligence in government hospitals and anarchy in the health administration come to a halt. Then only we will restrain ourselves. But if this continues, we will respond,” she replied to a question whether her party would organise rallies inside hospitals after Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s ban.

“If they (state government) can’t build proper infrastructure in the health sector in 26 years, when will they do it' What is the use of a government continuing if it can’t deliver the goods'” she asked.

Mamata announced a string of protests (all on weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm), starting tomorrow, against the “collapse of the health administration”, among other things, making clear what she thought of Justice Lala’s restrictions which have now been stayed.

However, she attacked Left Front chairman Biman Bose for his comments on Justice Lala and his order.

“The situation has come to such a pass that the ruling party feels it can do anything it likes. It can also ask a high court judge to get out of Bengal,” she said.

Asked why she took so long to react to the rally controversy, Mamata said she had kept quiet because of the festive season. “We generally don’t organise protests till bhaiphonta (brother’s day). But we could not keep quiet any longer,” she said

Echoing mostly the view of the CPM, Mamata said holding rallies is a fundamental right. “We don’t want rallies banned. But we don’t want to disturb people at the same time.”

It is an intention that has yet to be seen on the ground. Mamata’s rallies routinely block the Chowringhee crossing.

With the police beginning to crack down on rallies, Trinamul’s planned demonstrations from tomorrow will present a tricky challenge before the administration.

The Opposition party will hold a rally near the approach to the office of the Howrah district magistrate tomorrow and its women’s wing will demonstrate opposite Metro cinema on October 28.

A day later, Trinamul workers will organise sit-ins before district magistrates’ offices across Bengal and take out processions in every civic ward. The Trinamul youth wing will hold another protest agitation on November 3.

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