West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Saturday unveiled the clenched fist under his velvet gloves.
Delivering a speech at the Midnapore College ground, 50 km from the Maoist stronghold of Lalgarh, he legitimised CPI(M)’s armed operation to reclaim the areas from which it had been thrown out allegedly by the red rebels.
“The fighting against the Maoists should continue. And the rebels should be driven out towards Jharkhand and Orissa border,” he said.
The chief minister also obliquely painted both the Maoists and the Trinamool Congress with the same brush, saying: “It is the Left that will stay on (after next year’s elections, which the Left is widely expected to lose) and it is the Left who will drive away the Maoists. We will see what happens to Trinamool Congress.”
Calling Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee a liar, he said: “She is frequently visiting this region. Why is she coming? Why did she go to Lalgarh? All these programmes are to assist and indulge the Maoists.”
Later, Dipak Sarkar, CPI(M)’s West Midnapore district secretary, left the audience in no doubt about what the chief minister meant. “If we are attacked with bombs, then we will not throw rasgollas in return…”
In Kolkata, Mamata hit back. “The CM has gone to Midnapore to provide protection to armed CPI(M) cadres. He does not have the courage to go to Lalgarh, where people have rejected him and his party because of their atrocities,” she said.
“I am going there on October 6. We will hold a rally. CPI(M) armed cadres are wearing police uniform and spreading terror in Jungalmahal in the name of a joint operation. I will ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the joint forces from that area.”