Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday asked her party workers to "resist" terror perpetrated by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) cadres in this belt, and warned West Bengal's ruling communists that they were pushing the state towards president's rule by their violent actions.
Speaking at a rally in this Hooghly district area, known to be a stronghold of the CPI-M, Banerjee alleged that "CPI-M-backed goons" had put up blockades in at least four places on her way in Arambagh.
"Thousands of my supporters could not come. Others braved blockades, were beaten up and had to shed blood to attend this meeting. One of my party workers was shot at," she said.
Banerjee said even the lensmen were pushed and beaten up when they tried to take photos of the blockades organised by the ruling party at Champadanga.
"The CPI-M thought they can prevent me from holding the meeting by perpetrating terror and blocking roads. But they did not anticipate that lakhs of people will resist them," she said.
"Why should they (the CPI-M) try to stop me from holding a meeting announced long back? Why should my people be beaten up?" a fuming Banerjee asked.
Extensive areas of Hooghly district have witnessed violent clashes between the CPI-M and the Trinamool with the rivals trying to control political turf ever since the April-May Lok Sabha elections that saw the Congress-Trinamool combine decimating the ruling Left Front.
Ahead of the rally, political temperatures soared over the past few days with CPI-M leader and former Arambagh MP Anil Basu threatening to send 30,000 women supporters of the party to the rally venue.
The CPI-M supporters had resorted to the blockades after the death of one middle-aged woman, Saifunnesa, in a state-run Kolkata hospital Tuesday. Alleging that she was injured in an attack by the Trinamool days back, the CPI-M cadres took to the streets.
However, the medical superintendent of the hospital said her body did not bear any injury marks and she died of natural causes.
Banerjee termed the CPI-M allegation as its "latest conspiracy".
Blaming Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for the violence in the district, Banerjee said: "I want to tell him that we will politically fight their terror. Buddhadebbabu's goons could not hold us back as millions of people hit the streets".
Banerjee, who has repeatedly demanded president's rule in the state, alleging collapse of law and order, said the CPI-M itself was pushing West Bengal towards it by indulging in rampant violence.
"As per the constitution, it is the duty of the state government to maintain law and order. But the CPI-M-led government has failed in its duty. And as for us, we have been winning all the elections. We don't need the prop of president's rule to defeat the CPI-M," she said.
Banerjee called upon Trinamool workers to "resist" the CPI-M toughs if they attacked villages with firearms. "Chase them away. Don't be afraid. They are all outsiders. They're all mercenaries".
"Don't worry. If they burn your homes, we will rebuild them. Women and children should form the first line of protest. Blow conches to mobilise others in case of an attack. I tell the CPI-M, my party flag is enough to fight your gun," Banerjee said.