Mamata Banerjee did a complete U-turn on Maoists on Tuesday, when she called them "killers and cowards" and urged Lalgarh villagers to keep them out.
The West Bengal CM, in her last visit in 2010 to Lalgarh — the epicentre of Maoist insurgency in the state for last three years — had called the rebels her friends. This was in the run-up to the state polls.
On Tuesday, however, she sang a diffrent tune.
"Don't allow those killers to come back in any form," Banerjee said at her first public programme in Lalgarh, a block in West Midnapore district, since becoming the CM.
"They do not want peace. They do not believe in democracy. They want to terrorise people at gunpoint. They will disrupt development activities because they are anti-people," she added from the dais at Lalgarh Ramkrishna School, about 150 km from Kolkata.
During her last trip, Banerjee had demanded withdrawal of the Centre-state combined forces, a judicial probe into the death of CPI(Maoist) spokesperson Azad, prayed for the peace of his soul and even called the Maoists friends.
Her rally 20 months ago — as the opposition leader — had drawn about 100,000 people. The turnout at the school ground for the joint programme of the state government and railways was not more than 10,000.