In his first visit to Maoist-affected Jangalmahal area since the Salboni blast on November 2, 2008, aimed at his life, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday launched a sharp attack on Maoists, describing them as the prime enemy in West Midnapore and mentioned Trinamool Congress as a sub-text of the rebels.
“Your votes on May 10 would decide whether Jhargram would be dominated by killer Maoists or not. They had entered the town too, but we have forced them on the back foot, ” he said, addressing an election rally at Jhargram town in West Midnapore.
CPI(M) candidate and incumbent MLA of Jhargram, Amar Basu, has been overshadowed by Maoist-backed Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) spokesperson Chhatradhar Mahato contesting as an Independent.
Mahato, one of the most ardent campaigners of tribal rights, is the only candidate who is being tried under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His candidature is being viewed as a direct challenge to Bhattacharjee who had denounced him as one of the mischief-makers in the rebel camp. Throughout his 20-minute speech on Tuesday, however, Bhattacharjee never took the name of Mahato.
But his call was clear enough for supporters when he said, “Through this polls, we have defeat the Maoists, defeat the PCAPA and defeat Trinamool as well.” Bhattacharjee minced no words in slamming PCAPA.
“The Maoists have formed a group called PCAPA. What peoples’ committee is it? It’s a killers’ committee,” said Bhattacharjee.
The three districts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore have 40 seats between them and are politically crucial to the Left Front.
The chief minister said, “We have to win this battle anyhow. Otherwise, there is danger ahead. Maoists made hell out of the three forested districts, extorting and killing at will, calling endless bandhs and bringing in a reign of terror.”
“The PCAPA is a fully Maoist outfit,” he insisted, while arguing that voting in favour of Trinamool would also mean voting for the Maoists. “Every vote you cast in favour of Trinamool would go to Maoists. Trinamool’s victory means Maoists’ victory.”
Besides Mahato, Trinamool’s Sukumar Hansda is also contesting from Jhargram. Until Mahato filed his nomination, the seat seemed favourable to Trinamool. Mamata Banerjee is also slated to address a public gathering at Jhargram on May 6, in support of her candidate Hansda.
At a party rally at Debra in the same district in November 2009, Bhattacharjee declared that he would never let Mahato come out of jail. “We’ve caught one and will never let him come out,” he had said.
“We knew that only security forces would not do. So, we involved locals like you in the fight against them and that’s is the reason behind whatever success we have achieved. They are now fleeing towards Jharkhand and Orissa,” said the chief minister, adding, “But they are not finished yet.”