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Chhatradhar is not alone

The rally began by noon. At the start, there were less than 30 people. But by the time it ended around 3pm, there were more than 300 people. And no one could be happier than Ashutosh Mahato to see the support for his son, who is now lodged in Midnapore jail. Koushik Dutta reports.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2011 13:28 IST
Koushik Dutta

The rally began by noon. At the start, there were less than 30 people. But by the time it ended around 3pm, there were more than 300 people. And no one could be happier than Ashutosh Mahato to see the support for his son, who is now lodged in Midnapore jail.

The campaign rally for Chhatradhar Mahato was led by Manoj Mahato, who is out on bail, and giving him able support was Chhatradhar's wife Niyati.

The rally started off at Dalilpurchak, the very place from where Chhatradhar Mahato had started the people's movement on November 5, 2008, and ended at Lalgarh. It was while the rally was crossing Pathardanga near Amlia village that Ashutosh Mahato caught a glimpse of it. "I hope that more people will hit the streets in support of my son," Chhatradhar Mahato's father said.

The PCAPA leader's wife went from door to seeking votes for her husband. "You know that my husband started a movement for development of the area. No one, not even the government, has taken steps for for development. You have to fight for your rights. When my husband started the movement against all odds and against corruption, you all supported him. But for this he got a 'prize' — he was arrested on false charges, but he still thinks about the area and its development. I hope that since my husband is contesting the election, you will lend him full support as you have done before," Niyati Mahato told the women of the villages she visited. She has already been Madhabpur, Amdanga and Birkar villages besides Amlia, from where Chhatradhar Mahato hails.

The shy woman draped in orange and wife checked taanter sari also requested the people, especially the women, to join the campaign and spread the word about the work Chhatradhar Mahato has done for the area.

Manoj Mahato hopes that such intellectuals as singer-turned- Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman would come to the area to campaign in support of Chhatradhar. Mahato. Suman had earlier voiced support for the PCAPA leader and even written a song for him — Chhatradharer gaan. Other intellectuals too had backed him and protested against his arrest.

"We are going to the villages. Many people are afraid now but in a few days, they will all come out and campaign spontaneously for Chhatradhar. We also hope some intellectuals from Kolkata will come here and campaign for him," Manoj Mahato said.

The rally, led by Manoj Mahato, entered Lalgarh town in the afternoon and stopped in front of the CPI(M) office before crossing the local Trinamool Congress office. Some CPI(M) workers even took a peek at the rally.

It was after a long time that Lalgarh witnessed a PCAPA rally. Thursday's rally was actually organised under the banner of Santras, Durniti o Samrajyabadi Agrasan Birodhi Ganatantrik Mancha, the forum under which Chhatradhar Mahato is contesting the election with a basket as his symbol. The forum has set up an election office at Boropelia.

Many people from Kantapahari, Narcha, Chhotopelia, Boropelia, Amalia, Pathardanga, Birkar, Amdanga villages had joined the rally. But the widow of Lalmohan Tudu, the founder president of PCAPA who died in an encounter, Laxmimani, mother Dhanmani and daughter Lalita did stayed away, preferring to look from a distance when the rally passed by in front of their house at Narcha.