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As the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) stretch their nets to haul in people involved in the school teacher appointment scam and cattle-smuggling racket, the ruling Trinamool Congress is attempting to play it safe.
With the party's 'Khela Hobe' plan from August 16, involving mass protests across districts against the so-called vendetta politics by the BJP that is in power at the Centre, turning into a damp squib, leaders have been instructed against issuing statements that can fuel the fire that is already raging across West Bengal after the arrests of Partha Chatterjee and Anubrata Mondal.
Over the last several weeks, Opposition parties in West Bengal, including the BJP and even the CPM that failed to send a single legislator to the West Bengal Assembly in 2021, have found fresh wind under their wings and are organising regular public meetings and rallies across the state. The common slogan 'Chor Dhoro, Jail e Bhoro' (Catch the crooks and send them to prison) seems to have attracted the masses. It has certainly irked the Trinamool Congress, with a section of leaders trying to portray that not all in the party are crooks.
Unfortunately, this effort boomeranged with some leaders like Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy saying during a public meeting at Kamarhati in the North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal that the skin of the backs of those accusing the Trinamool of graft would be taken off and used to make sandals. Kamarhati is part of the Dumdum Parliamentary Constituency of which Roy, a professor, is the MP. It was in a flat at Kamarhati where the ED seized nearly 27 crore in cash and several crores in gold, while carrying out raids in the teacher appointment scam for which former minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee is now in jail.
On Friday, BJP leader Dilip Ghosh brought up the issue and said that the common man is preparing to land a severe blow on the Trinamool. Roy, when contacted, called Ghosh a megalomaniac but admitted that he had gone overboard while saying that people would be skinned to make slippers. "I conceded that I went overboard when making that comment. Yet, the media continues to rake up the issue," he said.
People in the districts (and that is where it matters) aren't too convinced though. They haven't taken kindly to such comments by the top leadership of the Trinamool even after the arrests. A party MLA, instructed to organise public meetings and rallies said that the situation is extremely volatile at the moment. "I had pleaded to the top leadership that we need not put up a show of strength at this time but go from door-to-door with folded hands to try and win back support. This plea was turned down and the top leadership continues to maintain a tough stance. Organising public meetings is not possible under the circumstances," he said.
This MLA wasn't the only one. According to a source within the party, several others from across the state sought a change in strategy unless the Trinamool wanted a major setback in the Panchayat polls of 2023. Despite having distributed dollops of freebies, public mood isn't exactly in favour of the party at the moment, grassroot level leaders have realised. The Trinamool leadership seems to have finally come to terms with the situation. Leaders have been directed not to shoot their mouths off but try and reach out to people through whisper campaigns and offering solutions to problems they may be facing.
"Humility is the key. Threats and attempts to shield people like Anubrata Mondal will not help. People are seething in rage and any violence will only help the Opposition," a leader added.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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First Published: Sat, August 27 2022. 12:34 IST