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Mamata begins campaign
Published on 15 Mar. 2009 12:17 AM IST
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: West Bengal’s main opposition Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Saturday kicked off her election campaign from this rural belt that flared up two years ago over a proposed chemical hub project. Banerjee also released the Trinamool’s election manifesto at a public gathering and promised that her party would continue to focus on the state’s economic development. The violent incidents triggered by the state government’s plans to set up the chemical hub and subsequent protests by civil society groups forced the ruling Left Front to abort the project last year. “Without Nandigram, no democratic movement is possible in West Bengal. The people of Nandigram have heralded a new dawn welcoming a socio-political change in the state,” she said during a speech high on histrionics. Banerjee has repeatedly paid obeisance to the “soil of Nandigram”, as she tried to play on the emotions of the people, many of whom had suffered during the year long protests since the start of 2006. Amidst tumultuous applause, Banerjee released her party’s poll manifesto at the rally, held it aloft for the crowd to see, but refused to share it with the media. Along with Banerjee, Trinamool’s Lok Sabha candidates from Tomluk and Contai seats - Subhendu Adhikari and Sisir Adhikari respectively - were present on the occasion. This apart, state Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy also shared the stage with his Trinamool counterparts. Meanwhile, Banerjee alleged that CPI-M cadres opened fire from Khejuri side, traditionally known as a CPI-M stronghold, at the Trinamool Congress gathering during the rally. “I challenge the CPI-M to come and fight our candidates democratically in East Midnapore district. How long will they threaten people at gunpoint?” she thundered. As a fall-out of the anti-chemical hub movement, the Trinamool succeeded in making inroads into the erstwhile Left bastion of Nandigram, and swept the rural body polls in 2008, besides wresting the seat with a huge margin in an assembly bypoll earlier this year.

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