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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

Mamata Banerjee opens up to Left against BJP

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, June 10, 2014
First Published: 15:39 IST(10/6/2014) | Last Updated: 17:49 IST(10/6/2014)

Mamata Banerjee is credited with decimating her arch rival, the Left, in West Bengal. Therefore when she advised the same party to strengthen its ranks to check BJP's rise, she conceded the real threat to Trinamool Congress' supremacy was the saffron surge.
 
"BJP workers are grabbing your party offices and raising their flags there," Banerjee told a 12-member Left team that met her at her office in Nabanna.
 
"Many of your party are leaving to join BJP. Manage your own flock…you know my stand on communalism. You must be having a stand, too," Banerjee told the team.

In a rare display of warmth toward her rivals, Banerjee went out of her way to show courtesy to the Left leaders. She was waiting outside the lift on the 14th floor to greet them.
 
She offered them tea and snacks and enquired about the health of Biman Bose and Kshiti Goswami. When the Left raised the issue of atrocities allegedly by Trinamool-backed goons, she immediately asked senior bureaucrats to look into the matter.
 
The chief minister's statements Left political pundits wondering whether she is trying to deliver the message to the Left - so far reckoned as the principal opposition to Trinamool - that BJP is the new opposition in the state.
 
"If the chief minister has indicated something to the Left, she has done it out of fear. I think BJP will soon become the major political force in Bengal and also the main opposition force. The chief minister has tried to strike common cause with the Left by identifying BJP as the common adversary," said Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, former principal of Presidency College and a prominent political observer.
 
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP's vote share jumped to 17% from the 6% in 2009. The gain is significant considering its vote share in 2011 assembly polls was only 4%.
 
In a moment of candour, the chief minister also remarked that like many other parties, some rank opportunists had made their way into her party, and that she has to remain alert about them.
 
Banerjee also told the Left leaders that their supporters were instrumental in ensuring state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury's win by the biggest margin of 3.56 lakh votes in Bengal.
 
 
The Left members included Biman Bose, Rabin Deb (CPI-M), Kshiti Goswami (RSP), Mihir Byne (RCPI), Kuheli Chatterjee (Marxist Forward Bloc), Jayanta Ray (FB), Ratan Majumdar (Democratic Socialist Party), Manju Kumar Majumdar (CPI), Umesh Chowdhury (Biplabi Bangla Congress), Saibal Chatterjee (Workers' Party) and Prabir Ghosh (Bolshevik Party).
 
The team informed her about the violence unleashed by the Trinamool Congress supporters. They handed over a list of 157 Left supporters allegedly killed by TMC- -backed goons in the state between May 13, 2011 and June 8, 2014.
 
In the meeting, the CM proposed that the Left parties nominate a coordinator who would liaise with Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee if reports of any such atrocity surfaces.
 
"The chief minister heard us out patiently. We hope she would take steps. About 45,000 men are unable to stay in their homes in the state now," said Biman Bose, the leader of the team.
 
However, Bose pointed out they would watch for a few days and if nothing substantial happens, they would take to streets.

Read: BJP set to replace Left as main opposition in Bengal


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