The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front huddle on rallies

Calcutta, Oct. 25: The CPM and other Left Front constituents have called an emergency meeting tomorrow to reach unanimity on a strategy for holding rallies and processions on city roads in the light of Justice Amitava Lala’s ruling restricting such traffic-stoppers.

Though the order has been stayed, there has been public criticism of the parties’ insistence on holding rallies, particularly after six-month-old Shabana Parveen died when her parents got stuck in a Left Front-sponsored rally and then had to turn away from the doors of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.

“Tomorrow’s meeting assumes significance as we have to work out a uniform strategy on bringing out rallies and processions in the city. After taking into account the views of the Front constituents, we will place them before the all-party meeting slated for October 29,” former chief minister Jyoti Basu said today. Basu will attend the “crucial meeting”.

In contrast to the CPM’s strident stand on processions, Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh said they would prefer more “regulated” rallies so that people, particularly those ailing, are not inconvenienced.

“We cannot forego our right to hold rallies and bring out processions to raise our voices against the injustice meted out to the people but at the same time, we must take into account the inconveniences of commuters,” he said.

The Bloc leadership is also in favour of some routes being earmarked for holding rallies and taking out processions. “I am convinced if we organise rallies in a disciplined manner, people will not be inconvenienced,” said Jayanta Roy, a Bloc secretariat member.

The RSP, too, feels the government should evolve a system of holding rallies that would not trouble people. “It’s better for all of us if we organise rallies or take out processions on certain dates in a uniform manner without disrupting traffic and inconveniencing people in general,” said Sunil Sengupta, a senior RSP secretariat member.

The Trinamul Congress has reacted sharply to the Left Front’s “futile” efforts to reach a consensus on holding rallies.

“Let the Front constituents first arrive at a unanimous decision on holding rallies. Only then can they pass it on to representatives of other parties at the proposed all-party meeting,” said Pankaj Banerjee, Trinamul spokesman and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Banerjee made it clear that his party would attend Wednesday’s meet only after the Front informs them of its “view vis-à-vis holding of rallies”.

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