In June 2009, a photograph became the symbol of change in Bengal's power structure — a mob breaking down a plush bungalow in a poor locality.
That was CPM leader Anuj Pandey's house in Dharampur, 8 km from Lalgarh in West Midnapore district. The incident established the end of the CPM's domination in the area.
But 15 months later, the CPM-Maoist fight seems to have turned a full circle, at least in Lalgarh.
The area became a hotbed of insurgency since November 2008 when the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee came under a Maoists' landmine attack at Salboni, 50 km from Lalgarh.
On Thursday, the CPM unlocked its party office at Dharampur.
Encircled by six camps run by armed CPM cadres, the fall of Lalgarh seems imminent, at least for now.
Six hours later, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee declared her party would stage a Lalgarh-to-Dharampur rally on September 9.
CPM's Lalgarh local committee secretary Joydeb Giri, however, said, “We will stay here, but our leadership will decide our next step.”
About 120 armed CPM cadres are manning the CPM's Dharampur camp, which is closest to Lalgarh. The most distant one is at Mushna village, 28 km away.
The party decided to regroup in the area at the state committee meeting in Kolkata on Wednesday and Thursday. State CPM secretary Biman Bose said, "Those who have suffered will now put up resistance."
Party sources indicated that the team at Kadoshole, 17 km away, would be the first to set foot in Lalgarh in a few days.The geography of the area makes it convenient for the CPM to attack from two sides — Dharampur and Kalshibhanga, 9 km away. Battle plans have already been drawn up.