The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM strikes at bandh excuse

Durgapur, Jan. 3: A day after Mamata Banerjee called a bandh on February 3 to protest against imposition of taxes on domestic animals and rural transport, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today clarified that no such decisions had been taken.

“Our government has not yet discussed the proposal of imposing such taxes. No tax has been imposed in the irrigation sector in rural Bengal yet. Still Mamata Banerjee suddenly woke up one fine morning and called a Bangla bandh. This is very funny,” he said.

Bhattacharjee was addressing a rally at Gandhi Maidan this afternoon, organised to mark the launch of the Durgapur edition of the party’s mouthpiece, Ganashakti.

The chief minister said his government would impose taxes only on those capable of paying them.

“Ours is a government of the poor. We cannot do anything that will hurt the interest of the poor people. We need not learn from the Trinamul (Congress) how to serve the poor as we have been in power in Bengal for the past 26 years because the poor people have voted for us,” he said.

“We win election after election because of the marginal farmers and poor people who are constantly giving us support. Naturally, we have to protect their interest. We will certainly tax the rich people to serve the poor,” he said amid loud cheers. He criticised Trinamul for trying to create tension in Bengal in the name of calling a bandh.

Sensing that the next Lok Sabha elections might be held early next year, Bhattacharjee next targeted Mamata’s ally, the BJP. Taking on the nationalist fervour of the BJP, he claimed that the CPM was the second largest party after the Congress to have taken part in the freedom movement.

“Neither the BJP nor the RSS had fought for India’s freedom. Leaders like Saroj Mukherjee, who dedicated their lives for the country’s freedom, were part of the CPM. The RSS does not even recognise the Constitution of India. It was the CPM which had fought for the country’s freedom and that is the reason why we are the third largest party in the Parliament,” he said, exhorting the people to throw out the Trinamul-BJP combine in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

CPM heavyweights Anil Biswas, Biman Bose and Nirupam Sen were present at the programme.

Before the rally began, three persons were seriously injured when a truck ferrying people to the meeting collided with another vehicle on the way.

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