Foes eat, drink & bury hatchet
Lager and food united the warring parties in Lalgarh, the cradle of Maoist violence in the state. Polling agents of Chhatradhar Mahato and Trinamool Congress sat down for a hearty lunch at the house of a key CPI(M) leader. Surbek Biswas reports.kolkata Updated: May 11, 2011 12:56 IST
Lager and food united the warring parties in Lalgarh, the cradle of Maoist violence in the state. Polling agents of Chhatradhar Mahato and Trinamool Congress sat down for a hearty lunch at the house of a key CPI(M) leader.
To beat the fierce heat, the polling agents had beer before sitting down for a hearty lunch. On the menu was bhaat, (rice), uchhe bhaja (bitter gourd fry), dhaarosh bhaja (ladies finger fry), shaak bhaja (saag), paanchmeshali ghanto (mixed vegetable), lau diye daal (daal with pumpkin), alu posto (potato curry), chicken curry and chutney.
The opponents sat in the traditional Bengali style on the first floor of CPI(M) leader Tarun Banerjee's two-storey house and gorged on the spread.
"They are my neighbours and were frequent visitors to my house before the troubles. But this never happened earlier on polling day. All political parties in Lalgarh arrange meals for their workers and voters. However, the Election Commission barred such arrangements and I had arranged for food for only our party's polling agents," said Banerjee.
Banerjee, CPI(M) branch committee member in Lalgarh, led the poll campaign. In September 2010, he escaped an attempt on his life by Maoists, brothers in arms to Mahato. Banerjee recovered after a two-month treatment in a city private hospital.
"On polling and counting day, I cook for at least 25 CPI(M) workers apart from my husband and two sons. Therefore, I was fully prepared and did not run out of food. They came to our home around noon and I served food to all. This should be the ideal atmosphere for politics," said Banerjee's wife Samasree, who has been living under the shadow of the gun for more than two years now.
The men who shared the meal were the polling agents of the jailed PCAPA leader and Trinamool candidate Sukumar Hansda and 15 CPI(M) workers.
Banerjee received a phone call around 11am that four men-Soumen Tiwari and Bhargab Roy from Trinamool and Tapas Adhikary and Baradaprasad Roy from Mahato's group - will have lunch.
"If we get a cup of tea, we share it among two or three of us, who may be bitter political opponents," said Soumen Tiwari, polling agent of Hansda.
"We lead our life in a cordial and peaceful atmosphere in Lalgarh. Today's lunch once again proved it," said Adikary, Mahato's polling agent.
Forgotten was the war of words between chief minister and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and the Maoists.