A senior CPM leader was attacked by alleged Trinamool supporters today (01 April 2017) when he went to Goghat, about 100 kilometres from Kolkata, to meet villagers protesting land acquisition for a railway project.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, a senior lawyer and former Kolkata mayor, had gone with an NGO to look into the issue. A few weeks ago, locals had attacked a Trinamool office at Goghat to protest the land acquisition.
"I was pulled out of my car and slapped and kicked," Mr Bhattacharya said. "This is the first time I have ever been physically attacked in my political career," he added.
The incident occurred at around noon. Police rushed Mr Bhattacharya and other members of the NGO, Save Democracy, into their cars and sent them away.
Mr. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, a senior lawyer and leader of the CPIM, was easily the worst mayor the Calcutta Municipal Corporation I have seen in my adult life. It is difficult to forget the huge garbage dumps on streets, broken roads, and almost-zero developmental initiative that we saw in Kolkata during his time. The only well-maintained road in in the city then was the stretch by which the chief minister Jyoti Basu (another specimen, more about him later) travelled from home to office. While Calcutta reeked, the mayor often spent time in swanky cities in the Occident.
On the positive side, he has been at the forefront to a number of public-interest litigation since the CPIM lost power in 2011. For example, the case to get the Sarda mega-scam out of the clutches of Ms Mamta Banerjee's police, and handing it over to the CBI.
The Left Front Government lost power after 34 years of uninterrupted rule mainly because of their hubris, disconnect with people, and thuggery by party members, who made money out of everything, including marital discords. However, the proximate cause was Singur, where the Left government gave away over 1000 acres of the MOST PRODUCTIVE AGRICULTURAL LAND in West Bengal to Tatas for a car factory. I did some arithmetic at that time and my sense was this: the LF government had ruined the livelihood of many more families than those who would have been benefited by the car factory. And to impose their stupid decision, the CPIM let loose the police and party goons on unarmed protesters. The ruthless beating of ordinary village folk was seen live on television and I believe that afternoon, the CPIM's goose had been cooked.
It is therefore a bit of an irony that Bikash Bhattacharya was beaten up by Mamta's goons when "he went to Goghat, about 100 kilometres from Kolkata, to meet villagers protesting land acquisition for a railway project."
How shamelessly opportunistic can politicians be? Evict people needlessly (there was plenty of less fertile land in West Bengal) for a private project when you are in power and support people who are being evicted for a railway project when you are out of power?
But even then, I protest this incident in the strongest terms.
West Bengal is being ruled by a ruthless gang today. No one has a right to beat up anyone for expressing their views. This must stop.