FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, April 28: More than 200 CPM supporters today demonstrated in front of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, demanding the immediate removal of the subdivisional officer who had allegedly ordered police to batoncharge those blocking the SMC’s entrance yesterday.
Using loudspeakers, the protesters, who included CPM district leaders and most of the councillors, began the sloganeering at 10.30am. They also demanded action against the police officers carrying out the lathicharge and accused the mayor and other Congress leaders of inciting the law enforcers to attack the “peaceful demonstrators” during yesterday’s 12-hour strike.
Today, policemen armed with batons were deployed at the site and keeping a watch over the situation.
“We want immediate removal of the SDO, Rajat Saini, who had ordered the police to lathicharge the peaceful demonstration of the councillors and the CPM workers in front of the SMC without any provocation,” said Mukul Sengupta, a CPM councillor and the Siliguri zonal committee secretary.
“The mayor and other councillors from the Congress and the Trinamul Congress are responsible for instigating the police and the administration against us. We condemn it and will carry out our protests across the subdivision unless our demands (of transferring the SDO and taking steps against the police) are met.”
The CPM claimed that (only) 19 of its supporters had been injured in the lathicharge.
“After the incident, we perceived that the SDO had reached the spot with a plan and ordered the lathicharge without any provocation. It is an irony that the mayor denied having any clue about the police action,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a state committee member of the CPM.
Today, inspector general of police K.L. Tamta said he was expecting a report from the additional superintendent of police, Siliguri. “Once I receive it, I will forward it to the appropriate quarters.” Saini said he had sent a report of the incident to the district magistrate yesterday.
At the SMC today, the Congress and Trinamul Congress councillors passed the first logo of the civic body. The Opposition Left councillors boycotted the meeting.
“We had invited designs for the logo last month and got response from artists from across north Bengal. A seven-member committee formed for this purpose finalised the logo,” said Nantu Pal, the deputy mayor. “We will publish it on May 9 on the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.”
Cong-Trinamul pact eludes 5 of 7 civic bodies
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, April 28: Three days have passed since the filing of nominations for the civic polls has started but the Congress and the Trinamul Congress have managed to strike deals only in Cooch Behar and Mathabhanga.
Along with the two, the five other municipalities that will go to polls on May 30 are Dinhata and Toofanganj in Cooch Behar, Englishbazar and Old Malda in Malda and Jalpaiguri (see chart).
In Jalpaiguri, district Congress president Biswaranjan Sarkar blamed the “indomitable attitude” of the Trinamul leadership for not arriving at a consensus. “We have offered them five seats but they are insisting on 11. We have received the PCC nod (to go alone) and will announce the names of all 25 candidates tomorrow,” he said.
Trinamul leaders, on the other hand, have stuck to their own logic. “We have readied a booklet containing the details of poll results for the past 10 years, indicating the swing in our favour,” said Chandan Bhowmik, the party secretary-general in Jalpaiguri. “We hardly see any chances of reconciliation and are preparing to field candidates in all the wards.”
The problem is the same in Malda district. In Englishbazar, the Congress is not ready to give up more than seven seats to Trinamul, which has eight seats now, citing recent political changes. Trinamul, however, says it will not budge from its decision to contest 13 or 14 seats. “In 2005, I was in Trinamul which is why the results went in their favour,” said Krishnendu Choudhury, a district Congress leader. “The situation has changed now.”
In the Old Malda municipality, the Congress has already announced names of their candidates in 15 seats, while Trinamul wants at least nine.
Babla Sarkar, the Malda district Trinamul president, said if the Congress stuck to its decision, his party would field candidates in all 18 seats of Old Malda. “The same stands with Englishbazar.”
Congress MP from Raiganj Deepa Das Munshi accused the Trinamul of being adamant. “We want to make it clear that the Congress, under no circumstances, will do something that might affect the image of the party and if no alliance is formed, we have nothing to do,” she said from Delhi.
The situation is slightly better in Cooch Behar district where the allies have agreed on seat sharing in two civic bodies, while consensus is eluding Toofanganj and Dinhata.
In the 12-ward Toofanganj, the dispute is centred around Ward 4, which both the parties have been demanding. The Congress accepts four seats as proposed by Trinamul but demands the ward. Trinamul is ready to part with four seats, barring that ward.
In Dinhata, the Congress and Trinamul have decided to file candidates in four and 10 seats respectively, with decision pending for the one.
Observers feel that with only three days left for filing of nominations — the last date being May 3 as offices will remain closed on May 1 and 2 — the chances of striking an alliance in Malda and Jalpaiguri districts seem to be poor. “However, if the parties can negotiate a deal by May 6, the last date for withdrawal of candidature, there can be some last-minute adjustments,” an observer said.