|The vandalised RSP office in Alipurduar on Saturday. Picture by Anirban Chowdhury
Alipurduar, March 5: Over a dozen RSP supporters today allegedly vandalised the partys Jalpaiguri office to protest a reported plan to replace Alipurduars five-time MLA with PWD minister Kshiti Goswami as candidate for the Assembly polls.
Around 11am, the RSP supporters entered the party office in Alipurduars Newtown and broke chairs, tables and other furniture. They also broke a TV set and lights and tore documents. We were sitting in the office and discussing poll-related issues. Suddenly, the youths barged in and vandalised the office, a local party leader said.
He said the RSP supporters demanded that Nirmal Das be renominated as the party candidate from Alipurduar. They shouted slogans against the party leadership for planning to field Kshiti Goswami. They left after 15 minutes. We were initially shocked but later informed police, the leader added.
According to an eyewitness, the protesters said they would not allow Goswami to contest from Alipurduar as he was an outsider. The agitators demanded Das be given the ticket as he had won the seat five consecutive times.
An RSP zonal committee secretary said the protesters threatened to hit the streets and campaign against the Left Front if Goswami was fielded from Alipurduar.
The protests followed a report in a local Bengali newspaper last week that Goswami, who has lost his Dhakuria Assembly seat to delimitation, could be fielded from Alipurduar.
Das, who was returning to Alipurduar from Calcutta by train at the time of the attack, condemned the incident. I dont approve of what happened today. It is in bad taste, he said. The RSP leader called for action against the attackers.
Manoj Bhattacharya, an RSP secretariat member and former MP, said no decision had been taken on the seat from which Goswami would contest.
Our state committee will meet on March 11 to identify the seats from where we want to contest. On March 13, the Left Front is expected to announce its candidate list. We are still in the process of finding a seat for Kshiti Goswami, Bhattacharya said.
Condemning todays attack, Bhattacharya said district unit secretary Sunil Banik had been asked to probe the incident. The police have already started an investigation.
Left Front sources said that of the 12 Assembly seats in Jalpaiguri, the RSP was likely to get five Alipurduar, Kalchini, Mainaguri, Birpara-Madarihat and Kumargram.