A crore votes at stake, Trinamool, CPI-M, Congress, BJP share dais

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

KOLKATA - The compulsions of vote bank politics presented a rare sight here Tuesday when leaders of West Bengal’s arch-rivals Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Trinamool Congress, as also of the Congress and the BJP, shared the dais at a rally organised by a group of Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes.

This, when the main opposition Trinamool has been boycotting, since last year’s Lok Sabha polls, government functions where CPI-M ministers and leaders were in attendance.

The union ministers from Trinamool had even in the past left the venue of government functions midway to avoid been seen with CPI-M functionaries.

However, with the All India Matua Mahasangha group, said to wield influence over more than one crore voters mostly in the states southern districts, political parties made a beeline for the rally in the heart of Kolkata.

Among those at the rally were state Housing Minister and CPI-M state secretariat member Gautam Deb and Trinamool top gun and union Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy - the latter having come with two other party leaders - besides state Congress chief Manas Bhunia and BJPs Tathagata Roy, apart from leaders of other partners of the ruling Left Front.

This is historic. It is great that Trinamool leaders are also here, besides leaders of other parties, said Deb in his address.

It is a difficult task to bring all political parties in our state together for a cause, but the Matua Mahasangha has successfully done this, said Deb expressing his thanks to Barama - Binapani Debi, who heads the group of SCs and OBCs comprising mostly immigrants from Bangaldesh.

Deb also urged all political parties, mainly the Trinamool leaders, to keep aside the political differences and come together to launch the movement on development issues and noble causes.

All the 42 Lok Sabha members from West Bengal and the MPs in Rajya Sabha irrespective of their political affiliations should come together and place the demands of the Matua Mahasangha in parliament, said Deb.

Roy and other Trinamool leaders sat on the dais but did not speak. Echoing Deb, Bhunia said his party will support whole heartedly if all the parties come together on the issues raised by the Matua Mahasangha.

A Congress delegation, including me, will place the demands of the Matua before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in January, said Bhunia.

The Matua Sangha, founded by Binapani Devis husbands great grandfather Harichand Thakur, a Brahmin, at Gopalganj in Faridpur (now in Bangladesh), held the rally demanding changes in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2003 to give citizenship, voting rights and proper rehabilitation to refuges staying in India over decades.

A team of delegates of the Matua Mahasangha also submitted a deputation before Governor M. K. Naranayan and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

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