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Mohammad Asif, Hindustan Times
Durgapur, February 16, 2014
In yet another announcement that is sure to stir controversy, chief minister Mamata Banerjee told a rally of party workers that she will stand by Birbhum Trinamool president, Anubrata Mondal. The announcement comes at a time when Calcutta high court constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe a murder case in which Mondal is involved.

While ordering the SIT, justice Dipankar Dutta said in order to ensure a proper investigation the team, led by the DGP, should report only to the court.

“Kesto (as Mondal is known in party circles) is an efficient organiser. I will stand by him to the last,” announced Mamata at the party session.

Ironically, while committing her support to Mondal, the chief minister told the party workers, “We are not here to act like ruffians, we are here to control ruffians.” She also told party workers to stay away from tendency to resort to strong-arm tactics in their locality.

Her remark triggered severe criticism from opposition leaders. “She is trying to create a conflict between the executive and the judiciary.

Nothing has happened in the stat in the past three years. Therefore, she is depending on goondas now,” remarked BJP state secretary Rahul Sinha. “The chief minister is surrounded by a bunch of lumpens. That’s the state the ruling party has degenerated to,” said Abdul Mannan, senior Congress leader.

Birbhum leaders also pointed out, the chief minister’s statement proves Mondal will be given a free hand to create terror in the impending Lok Sabha polls.

Last year in July, while addressing a rally just before the panchayat polls, Mondal exhorted party workers to burn down the houses and kill rebel party workers contesting as independents.

Anubrata Mondal, a powerful leader in the Birbhum district, is the prime accused in the FIR that named 41 persons.