The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata 'conspiracy theory' in stock-taking

Calcutta, May 14: Mamata Banerjee today said she was 'a victim of a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched by the state government, the Centre and a section of the media'.

The Trinamul Congress chief, still smarting under the humiliation of her election drubbing, also called for a movement to expose those who had conspired to 'bring about our poll disaster'.

'Don't get upset by the debacle. People have not rejected us. Instead, we are victims of a deep-rooted conspiracy,' she told party functionaries and workers, who had gathered for a stock-taking exercise.

The effort to put up a brave front in the face of adversity continued. 'Let us rebuild the organisation from the grassroots to take on the CPM,' she said. 'Politics is not for today, but tomorrow.'

A fact-finding committee would be formed to look into the causes of the party's defeat, Mamata announced and then went back to playing the old tune. The team will visit places where post-poll clashes are taking place, she said, adding: 'If CPM men unleash terror on you, resist them. Don't retreat like cowards.'

Trinamul functionaries cheered as she spoke.

There were no leaders from her principal ally, the BJP, at the meeting, though some of the members of the front she had floated on the eve of the elections were present. Former Naxalite leader Ashim Chatterjee and expelled CPM leader Sumanta Hira attended the meeting.

'Wiser after the reverses, Mamata wants to distance herself from the BJP. This will help us consolidate the Muslim vote bank in the future,' a Trinamul functionary said.

He added that the BJP would be kept away during the party's next round of anti-government agitation.

The Trinamul leader faced some flak from partymen before levelling the conspiracy charge. Chatterjee, Hira and even loyalist Saugata Roy criticised her for her inability to 'cement the organisation'.

'We'll have to self-introspect. Our organisational weakness led to defeat in many seats, particularly those in the villages,' said Roy, who lost from Dhakuria in Calcutta.

Chatterjee said it was wrong to gear up the organisation only two months before the polls. 'Instead, we should carry on various political programmes round the year to keep party workers on their toes. We may have 29 legislators in the Assembly, but we have got support from 2 crore people, who voted for us,' he added.

Winding up her speech, Mamata lashed out at the Congress for ignoring her call to form an alliance. 'We have lost in over 70 seats because of the division of votes. If all Opposition forces stood united, the Left Front would have found it difficult.'

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