The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong protests intensify

Jamshedpur, Nov 6: The district Congress headquarters at Tilak Pustakalaya resembled a battleground this morning as party workers clashed and burnt effigies of state president P. K. Balmuchu and Jharkhand in-charge K. Keshav Rao.

Members of warring factions fought pitched battles over the issue of allotment of a party ticket to Banna Gupta, the former Samajwadi Party state president. Four Congress workers were injured in the melee. The situation was brought under control after the police intervened.

According to sources, trouble started at 11am as senior leader Baldev Singh arrived at Tilak Pustakalaya. Within minutes, about 100 workers stormed the office premises carrying two effigies. They shouted slogans against Rao and Balmuchu, prompting party functionaries already present at the spot to protest. Soon the tension escalated, and fistfights ensued. Some party workers could be seen charging at others with rods in hand. Five people were injured even as passersby ran for cover.

One of the protestors, Ravindra Mondal, told The Telegraph that they had taken to the streets as active workers had been ignored and someone like Gupta, who was not even a member of the party, had been given a ticket.

General secretary of the party’s East Singhbhum district committee Kamlesh Kumar Pandey said using abusive language and burning effigies of senior leaders were not in accordance with the Congress culture.

“Everyone has the right to protest in case there is any resentment over any decision. Partymen may stage dharnas and even demonstrate in front of the party office, but burning effigies of a senior party leader is tantamount to revolt,” said Pandey.

Meanwhile, Banna Gupta, when asked about the escalating protests over his nomination as Jamshedpur (West) candidate, claimed that the voice of protest would subside. “After all, those who are true Congressmen, will come forward and try to ensure my victory,” said Gupta.

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