Public condemnation of Anil Basu, Hooghly district CPI(M) boss, by none other than chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and party state secretary Biman Bose has come as a body blow for the CPI(M) in Hooghly.
That too at a time when the party is trying its best to boost cadres for putting up a tough fight against the growing popularity of Trinamool.
Basu, former Arambagh MP, who tops the demand list of speakers for poll rallies in Hooghly, has not only been forced by the top brass of his own party to issue a written public apology for his obscene comments about Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in which he drew a comparison between the railway minister and sex workers of Sonagachhi, but has also been restricted from giving any public speech before the polls.
This blow comes barely a month after another top leader of the district, former Hooghly MP and CPI(M) chief whip in Parliament, Rupchand Pal, was censured by Bhattacharjee, for his role in stopping the performance of Poshu Khamar, a play based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, by Shaonli Mitra’s theatre group Pancham Vaidik.
The Left is facing a tough challenge in this one-time bastion. In the 2009 general elections, it lost two of three parliamentary seats except Arambagh and even there the winning margin sharply dipped from 5.92 lakh to about two lakh.
Of the 18 Assembly seats in the district, 13 are being seen as favourable to the Opposition, while only five —Arambag, Pursurah, Khanakul, Goghat and Punduah — are being seen as favourable to Left. In 2006, the Trinamool won only two seats in the district, but things changed fast since Singur happened. Bose played a key role in gathering landowners’ consent for the Nano project, too.
Now with the loss of a prime voice to lead the vocal political offensives against the Trinamool, district CPI(M) leadership has landed in a spot. “Surely this incident has put us on the back foot to some extent. We were planning to step up aggression against the Opposition but our aggression would miss a lot of bite,” said a senior CPI(M) leader of Hooghly district.
Soumendranath (Anjan) Bera, Bhattacharjee’s deputy in the information and culture ministry, and CPI(M) candidate from Pursurah in Arambagh, however, tried to put up a brave face. “Our party has publicly criticised his speech and taken action. But is there anyone in the Trinamool to apologise for the number of obscene remarks their leaders made on our chief minister and other top leaders?” he said.
Now without Bose, state committee member Sunil Sarkar and Arambagh MLA Benoy Dutta are likely to appear as the prime CPI(M) speakers, besides Rupchand Pal and state committee member Mitali Kumar.
The chief minister is also slated to address two public meetings in the district once the third phase polls are over.