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Since 1st March, 1999
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Shield for poorest of poor hit by politics

Tamluk, Sept. 11: Implementation of a health insurance scheme for below-poverty-line people was put off today in East Midnapore after its launch was cancelled because of a Trinamul Congress agitation.

About 100 people laid siege to the venue in Tamluk protesting the invitation to former CPM MP Lakshman Seth and prevented insurance and bank officers, district officials and Left MLAs from entering.

The officials were let in about an hour later but labour minister Anadi Sahu declared the programme cancelled after three hours as the Trinamul supporters continued to block Seth’s path and protest.

“Go back Lakshman Seth. People have rejected you,” the Trinamul supporters said.

Seth had been the CPM strongman in the district until his mistimed land acquisition notice in Nandigram and the violence it sparked changed his political fortunes and that of his party. Trinamul has swept all elections in the region in the past two years.

Sahu said he was “forced to cancel the programme because of the Trinamul agitation” and defended the invitation to Seth, saying he was a member of his department’s Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board.

The former MP left the venue after the programme was cancelled and the protesters dispersed as well.

Police said they did not remove the Trinamul blockade because of express instructions to avoid a confrontation.

Unorganised sector workers from below-poverty-line families will be covered by a Rs 30,000 health insurance under the central scheme, partly funded by the state.

The scheme has already been launched in Malda, North 24-Parganas and Burdwan. East Midnapore will now have to wait for its turn to come again.

“We plan to cover five to six districts by March,” the labour minister said, adding that East Midnapore could still make it to that list.

The Trinamul leaders who had been invited today — junior Union rural development minister Sisir Adhikari, Tamluk MP Subhendu Adhikari and zilla parishad and panchayat members — boycotted the event because of Seth.

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