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Mamata holds review meet as political violence rocks state

After an emergency review meeting of the administration in the wake of violence, Banerjee told the local press that “a wounded tiger is more dangerous” even as protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) erupted in different parts of the state.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2019 01:12 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Kolkata
bypolls,polls,poll violence
In Monday’s review meeting, where senior party leaders and ministers were present, Banerjee also heard, perhaps for the first time in her rule, that the ground-level police force was not listening to the ministers.(ANI)

A sense of unease has gripped West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress with political violence taking an ugly turn in the state. Amid mounting pressure, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wants to meet the challenge politically.

After an emergency review meeting of the administration in the wake of violence, Banerjee told the local press that “a wounded tiger is more dangerous” even as protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) erupted in different parts of the state.

Senior Trinamool leaders said on Monday Saturday’s violence in Basirhat in North 24-Parganas district that has left two BJP supporters dead has put the party in pressure.

“Previously, we have seen violence between the Left and the Trinamool. Unlike the Left, the BJP has support from the Centre and has a much larger organisation. We would be in trouble if it continues,” said a senior Trinamool MP.

Another MP, who did not want to be named, said, “The way the situation is evolving, it may go out of control of the Mamata Banerjee’s administration. And we are playing in the BJP’s hand because any violence helps the BJP to consolidate its base and gain public sympathy.”

In the recent Lok Sabha election, the BJP surprised poll pundits and got its best tally of 18 seats in the state, reducing the Trinamool to just 22. Banerjee’s party won 34 of the 42 seats in the state in 2014.

In Monday’s review meeting, where senior party leaders and ministers were present, Banerjee also heard, perhaps for the first time in her rule, that the ground-level police force was not listening to the ministers.

According to officials in the know, senior minister Jyotipriya Mallick and Suvendu Adhikary told Banerjee that in some police stations, the officers are not willing to lodge FIRs against BJP workers. Banerjee asked senior policemen to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, in a bid to turn the tables on the BJP, the state general secretary of the Trinamool, Partha Chatterjee, wrote to the Union home ministry, blaming the BJP for the recent tensions.

The ministry issued an advisory to West Bengal on Sunday, asking the administration to maintain law and order in the state stalked by violence and political killings, drawing an angry response from the Trinamool.

“We have every reason to believe that this is an evil ploy to grab power in states run by parties politically opposed to the BJP,” wrote Chatterjee.

“Moreover, this is a deep-rooted conspiracy and game plan to malign the state government and capture the Bengal administration through undemocratic, unethical and unconstitutional means,” the letter said.

Trinamool leaders also added that they are not expecting the National Democratic Alliance government to impose President’s rule in the state as it would give a political advantage to Banerjee. They fear that these incidents of violence would give more impetus to the BJP and enhance its support base. “They want to destabilise the government so that if there is an early election, the BJP are in a better position,” said a senior MP.

For its part, the BJP said it was planning a protest rally at Kolkata on Wednesday to mount pressure on the Trinamool.

The BJP feels CM Banerjee is inviting a confrontation with the Centre to gain sympathy. “We will fight it politically,” a BJP leader said.

The BJP also reiterated that after the Basirhat violence, in which a Trinamool supporter too was killed, three of its workers had gone missing.

Banerjee rejected the allegation, saying: “I have heard BJP leaders alleging three of their workers are missing. Then you have to provide their names and addresses...”

Roy hit back, and said, “I am giving names and addresses of those missing. Will she resign, if the information is true?”

(With inputs from HTC in Kolkata

First Published: Jun 11, 2019 01:12 IST