Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ration rage singes Red bastions

11 Oct 2007, 0319 hrs IST,TNN

KOLKATA: After the land rage in Singur and Nandigram, the ration row has put the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government in a spot again. Dearth of supplies in the public distribution system (PDS) outlets has become a rallying point for the Opposition, from the Trinamul Congress to the Maoists.

It has led to cracks in the Red bastion as was evident from the huge crowd Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee drew at Sonamukhi in Bankura on October 4. Significantly, this has become a major issue among villagers after the state’s land acquisition bid giving the Opposition an opportunity to continue working together at the grassroots that has never happened in the state before.

A day after Mamata’s rally at Sonamukhi, a resident of Dihipara village, Abhay Chatterjee, said, “People from Dihipara, Palasdanga and Madanpur went in three buses to attend the rally.” He found it remarkable as the Sonamukhi is a CPM stronghold. The discontent and the Opposition’s coming together is likely to have an impact in the coming elections.

Unnerved by the ration rage spreading in the districts, CPM toughs are striking back making matters worse. “Some criminals carrying guns and led by CPM leaders threatened us to return wheat, rice and kerosene looted from the ration shop. Otherwise they would ransack our houses. The police were with them,” Nabagram Block Congress president Mir Badal Ali said.

Now, the discontent against corrupt ration dealers has provided an opportunity to Opposition parties to make inroads into CPM strongholds. Police had said that Naxalites were behind the burning of four police jeeps in the Nabagram area of Murshidabad earlier this week, though local CPM leaders believe that Congress supporters had done it.

The Burdwan district CPM finds it hard to believe the fact that its leaders were beaten up and the party office was ransacked right in the heart of the district town, which is perhaps the strongest turf of the party in the state.
Birbhum DM Tapan Kumar Som believes that it is the criminals who are behind the looting spree. On Wednesday, he said in most places, the criminals are leading the agitation. Some misguided common people, however, have joined them, he added.

In places where Trinamul has a presence, the involvement of the party in the agitation is evident.

Such incidents were witnessed at Labhpur — where a villager died in police firing — and Ahmedpur areas of Birbhum district. In these places, Opposition parties led deputations to the the block development officers and blocked busy roads for hours.

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