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1 May 2017

Day Two of Left-TMC face-off

BIRESWAR BANERJEE & AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Siliguri, April 30: The CPM and Trinamul continued tirades against each other over the incident in which mayor Asok Bhattacharya was hit by a bag thrown allegedly by the leader of the Opposition at the monthly board meeting of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation yesterday.
When Ranjan Sarkar allegedly flung the bag, Bhattachary ducked, but the strap hit the mayor on the forehead. Bhattacharya felt unwell and had to be hospitalised. He was discharged today.
Sarkar and another Trinamul councillor Nantu Paul went to the Siliguri district hospital yesterday evening and got admitted, alleging that they had been attacked by Left Front members of the SMC.
State tourism minister Gautam Deb, who is also the Darjeeling district (plains) president of Trinamul, today accused the mayor of using "cheap tactics" to earn political mileage.
On the other hand, Bhattacharya called the incident an "attack on democracy," and Rambhajan Mahato, his deputy at the civic body, filed a complaint at Siliguri police station, naming five Trinamul councillors. The five were mentioned as "miscreants" in the complaint.
"Bhattacharya is trying to earn political mileage and has resorted to cheap political tactics. As far as I know, he has not suffered any injury and was not assaulted," Deb said.
He said the mayor's provocative remarks had led to the incident yesterday.
"Provocative and negative remarks by the mayor over culture and education in the state prompted our councillors to protest. None of them, however, attacked the mayor. He used the opportunity to campaign against Trinamul," said Deb.
At the monthly board meeting yesterday, Nikhil Sahani, a Trinamul councillor, had proposed that Rs 10 lakh be given to each borough (cluster of wards) for promotion of culture and education. The mayor replied that the allocation was necessary as the overall culture in the state was in a shambles these days.
The minister called on Sarkar and Paul at the hospital today. "They are under observation. Doctors have advised some tests for them," Deb said.
Dulal Dutta, a Trinamul councillor, has filed a police complaint, alleging that the mayor and five CPM councillors had attacked them.
Bhattacharya today, said: "Trinamul has failed to grab the SMC and the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad. So, the party and its elected representatives have been trying to pose problems for both the boards. We have been constantly facing these challenges and yet, we are trying our best to provide services and benefits to people. That is why Trinamul leaders are resorting to physical attacks."
The attack on an elected representative, he said, was an "attack on democracy".
The Left had held a protest march yesterday evening and this afternoon, Trinamul organised a rally here.

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