Cong attacks Mamata at Singur, starts poll campaign
With all guns blazing, the West Bengal Congress chose to take on chief minister Mamata Banerjee at her home turf Singur. At a rally on Sunday, the party declared it would contest all 61,000 panchayat seats across West Bengal against Banerjee's Trinamool Congress.
The chief minister, who has so far been unable to give Singur farmers their land back following reverses in court, is already on a sticky wicket in the area. And the Congress has chosen to strike where it would hurt the most.
"Trinamool's rise started from Singur and this is the place from where our movement (against this government) starts," declared Pradesh Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya. "The Congress will have to become the alternative to Trinamool Congress."
The Trinamool had already decided to go it alone in the panchayat polls, which are likely to be conducted in 2013. But given the public mood following several faux pas on part of the chief minister, including the cartoon row, the recent arrest of a dissenting farmer and a spate of rape cases in the state, the Congress morale is high.
"In the regime of Maa-Mati-Manush, there is no right for manush (people) to speak their mind. Anyone who dissents or raises critical questions is being branded a Maoist or a criminal," Choudhury said.
The party has announced a gherao of the Singur block development office on September 25, demanding transparency in disbursal of compensation to farmers.
The Congress has also chosen the date with care.
In 2006, following a day-long dharna, Banerjee had been dragged out of the same office in a midnight police operation. The Trinamool has since observed September 25 as a "protest day" and Banerjee had always attended the programme.