Berserk in House, bandh outside

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By OUR BUREAU in Calcutta
  • Published 30.12.06

Calcutta, Nov. 30: It may be too late to head out of town on a three-day weekend but you may consider paying a visit to the Bengal Assembly on bandh day tomorrow to have a rare view of the ruins wrought by Mamata Banerjee’s handful of legislators.

The Assembly canteen may not serve subsidised biryani to you — because you’re not an MLA — but if you’re lucky you might find remnants of the eggs and chicken her legislators hurled inside the House today.

You’ll wonder how with only 30 MLAs Trinamul rustled up the strength to turn on its head a huge, round table. You’ll see uprooted tables, chairs and microphones strewn on the floor as marks of the history made today. Never seen in Bengal, not possibly in any other state — except one incident in Uttar Pradesh.

“We don’t have the habit of calling bandhs and strikes, but today’s barbaric incident needs to be condemned,’’ Mamata said.

She, of course, wasn’t referring to the Assembly rampage whose spoils chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee invited the people to see. “The general public can come to the Assembly tomorrow to see for themselves the damage caused to public property,” he said.

Determined to foil the 12-hour bandh, the administration will try and keep the city on its feet so you could take a chance and catch transport for a glimpse of the biryani egg and chicken-leg-bombed Assembly.

“Farmers who have lost their land told me there should be a protest and that’s why tomorrow’s bandh,” Mamata explained, talking of the land acquisition at Singur for the Tata Motors factory. The Congress has offered “moral” support to the bandh, which will spare the IT industry.

“The bandh call is an irresponsible act. We will do everything to foil it,” Bhattacharjee said.

“Nobody can stop Tata Motors from setting up a factory in Singur. An overwhelming majority of people in Bengal want the factory,” he added.

If you’re not the courageous type, let tomorrow pass. The government has decided that the upended tables and chairs will remain open for viewing on Saturday and Sunday, too, when the Assembly is usually closed.

The “barbaric incident” Mamata spoke of took place when she set out for Singur — about 40 km from Calcutta — around 12.30 pm. The police stopped her midway, apprehending trouble.

Mamata sat on the road in protest, but some 60 policewomen picked her up and shoved her into a Tata Sumo that dropped her off at the second Hooghly bridge.

Fuming, she went straight to the Assembly and told her party colleagues about the “police atrocities”.

Opposition leader Partha Chatterjee narrated in the House Mamata’s plight and accused the chief minister of masterminding the attack.

That was the cue for Trinamul MLAs to start smashing chairs and tables, wrench off microphones and hurl anything in sight at the treasury benches.

“Why was my movement stopped and why wasn’t I arrested? The police should have arrested and produced me in court. Instead, I was brought back to Calcutta,” Mamata fretted as her MLAs ringed her in the Assembly lobby.

As the word spread, Trinamul supporters hit the streets and tried to set ablaze government buses.