Monday, November 29, 1999

Buddhadeb scoffs at Mamata`s claim of advancing polls

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Kolkata, May 16 (IANS) Scoffing at Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee's claim that the West Bengal assembly polls would be advanced to October, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Sunday said only the state government has the right to decide on whether to hold the elections earlier.The state will go to the hustings as scheduled next year, Bhattacharjee told media persons here.'The elections will be held according to schedule next year. As per the constitution, only the state government can propose whether to advance the poll. No one else can. No one else has the right,' he said.The chief minister categorically said his government was not even toying with the idea of advancing the elections.Banerjee, also the railway minister, claimed Thursday that the assembly polls due next year may be advanced to October if her party won the upcoming elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and 81 other municipalities May 30.Coming down heavily on Banerjee without naming her, the chief minister accused her of being devoid of logic and lacking in any sense of history or economics.'We hear Kolkata will become London, Darjeeling will become Switzerland and Digha will become Goa. Very difficult to even react to such meaningless comments. We should think about policies based on ground realities in our country,' he said.Bhattacharjee said the Trinamool had six ministers of state in the central government but nobody knew what they have done over the past one year.He also accused Banerjee of attempting to provide a base to the Maoist guerrillas in the state by claiming there were no Left-wing extremists in West Bengal.'Even the central government has not accepted this. It cannot. The Congress is now forced to criticise the Trinamool. The Congress is also now forced to oppose them,' he said.The Trinamool and the Congress have failed to stitch any alliance for the municipal polls, with both blaming the other for the failure of the talks.Bhattacharjee also slammed the Trinamool chief for her comments that the Stephen Court fire - in which 43 people died March 23 - was the handiwork of state government agents who also tried to remove bodies secretly from the building.'Only Hitler and Mussolini used to campaign like this. They used to think people are gullible and will believe them. The same is being attempted here,' he said.Charging Banerjee with efforts to foment a communal riot, Bhattachrjee asserted that no one would be able to do that. 'I can say this with full responsibility. This is the first time such attempts are being made during election campaigning in our state. This is dangerous.'He claimed that Banerjee was leading a rainbow alliance of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Maoists, rightists, fundamentalists and anti-Left foreign powers. 'They have all ganged up. They want to hit the Left'.The chief minister referred to the RSS mouthpiece recently rooting for Banerjee as the state's next chief minister once the Left was defeated. 'Some BJP leaders have recently joined the Trinamool. They are basically RSS workers,' he said.

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