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‘Return bullets with ballots’

Barely 72 hours after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addressed the voters in Jhargram, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee hit the town with the battle cry of Netai. Koushik Dutta reports.

india Updated: May 07, 2011 01:53 IST
Koushik Dutta

Barely 72 hours after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addressed the voters in Jhargram, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee hit the town with the battle cry of Netai.

On January 7, nine villagers were shot dead, allegedly by CPM goons, in Netai village. Banerjee reminded her audience it was time for revenge.

“The CPM has killed people in Netai the same way as in Nandigram, reply to their bullets with ballot,” she said.

Characteristically, most of her energy was directed at the CPM — even though the ruling party appears to have little chance of making a comeback. Beyond the Jhargram town, red flags just disappear.

The fight, clearly, is between the Trinamool and Chhatradhar Mahato, a leader of the Maoist-backed Peoples’ Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), who is contesting as an Independent.

Though she refrained from mentioning Mahato by name, Banerjee said: “The allies of CPM are contesting against us. Giving them even one vote is strengthening their hand.”

On Friday, Mahato, an undertrial lodged in Midnapore central jail, held a press conference in jail, where he lamented the association between Mamata and the Congress. “It is unfortunate that the Trinamool Congress has allied with those forces (Congress) which has helped the CPM to be in power in the state for so long,” he said.