He’d already tasted humiliation of defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. At Bali island on Sunday afternoon, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee witnessed mob fury against his own administration.
Marooned by Cyclone Aila a week ago and left fuming by a government that has failed to provide food, water and shelter, hundreds of villagers tried to lynch Block Development Officer Amiya Bhusan Chakraborty barely a few meters from the CM’s security ring.
Buddha watched helplessly as some villagers and some policemen rescued the officer from the mob.
The irate villagers of Gosaba, one of the worst affected in the Sunderbans, targeted Chakraborty after a newspaper quoted him saying that the block had sustained only “partial damage”, implying that it does not require much attention.
The CM who has been touring flood-affected areas of the Sunderbans had gone to Gosaba along with his cabinet colleagues Irrigation Minister Subhash Naskar and Sunderban Development Affairs minister Kanti Ganguly and other senior officials.
In a bid to calm the villagers, Bhattacharjee got down from his car and addressed them. He assured them that his government would send more relief material and in a few days they would also get cooked food.
A visibly disturbed CM even admitted that the relief measures taken by the Animal Resource Development and Health departments were not satisfactory. “You must try to increase the pace of work and reach out to those who have not received any relief,” he said.
But that did not satisfy the people.
Shanti Mahato, who is staying in one of the relief camps, said: “The administration is providing food and drinking water to only those who are coming to receive them at the river bank. Nothing is reaching the interior parts where people are still trapped. Even the food is of very low quality and meagre – a handful of puffed rice for a five-member family.”