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Kolkata

Opposition slams Modi government at Mamata rally, calls for BJP ouster

Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.
 
TMC rally: Opposition unites in a show of strength
Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chairperson Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.
 
All the leaders who were present at the "United India Rally", which attracted thousands of people, spoke of the problems being faced by the poor and vulnerable sections across the country because of the present regime's policies and measures and urged the people to vote it out in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Ms. Banerjee also said the question about the Prime Ministerial candidate could be decided later, stressing the immediate task was for all of them to come together and oust the BJP from power.
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not attend the rally but sent their representatives. Mr. Gandhi also sent a message in which he extended his support to "Mamata Di" on the show of unity and hoped that they send a powerful message of a united India together.
 
"Across India, there are powerful forces afoot. Forces that are fanned by the anger and disappointment of hundreds of millions of Indians who have seen through the false promises and lies peddled by the Modi government," he said in the message.
 
"These forces are moved by the hope of a new tomorrow; a tomorrow filled with the idea of an India in which  the voice of every man, woman and child will be heard and respected no matter what their religion, economic status or region.
 
"The entire opposition is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Mr. Modi are intent on destroying.
 
"We commend the great people of Bengal who have historically been at the forefront of defending our ideas," he said.
 
Those present at the rally included former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) chief H D Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Singhvi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka Chief Minister and JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmy Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav,  former Union Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang.
 
Others present included Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M K Stalin,  Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, former BJP Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Ram Jethmalani, dissident BJP MP and actor Shatrughna Sinha, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren.
 
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"A new dawn is coming. We have taken the pledge to work together," Ms. Banerjee told the huge crowd.
 
"Some people are trying to destroy the country. As Arvind Kejriwal said, what Pakistan could not do in 70 years, the Government at Centre managed to do in just five years. They have managed to drive a wedge between communities. They have destroyed all the institutions. They have started politics of hate. They have destroyed the country’s economy," she said.
 
"Jan Dhan, NPA, Rafale, insurance are big scams. There are other big scams as well. Those who are dishonest are preaching about integrity. They are talking about honesty? How much money did they have five years ago and how did their wealth increase? I don’t want to make personal comments but they initiated it. I believe in politics of courtesy but they do not care about it. They crossed the Lakxman Rekha. They tried to implicate Sonia ji, Lalu ji, Akhilesh, Mayawati ji and even me. Why will they expect to be spared?" she asked.
 
"People are asking who will be the leader. There is no dearth of leaders here. Their party is leaderless, so there is just one Prime Minister. In our gathbandhan, we all are leaders, we all are workers, we all are the subjects and we all are the kings. This is democracy. We will later finalise who will be the Prime Minister. The time has not yet come," she said.
 
"Enough of Achhe Din, it is time to bid goodbye to BJP. It is time for change at Centre. For the sake of youths, farmers, labourers, and people of the country, we have to defeat the BJP," shhe said.
 
"We are against divisive politics. We are against hate. We do not want bloodlust. We are against discrimination. We want constructive politics, not destructive agenda.
 
"Hindu stands for sacrifice, Muslims represent integrity. Christians stand for love and Sikhs represent validaan. This is our country. A person who can work for all, without discrimination, will be the leader of the nation," she said.
 
Addressing the rally, Congress leader Kharge appealed to all parties to unite to save the Constitution and democracy. He said the BJP had promised two crore jobs every year, but has only helped its corporate friends.
 
"A rainbow of 22 parties is replacing dark clouds hovering over the country," Mr. Abhishek Singhvi said.
 
Mr. Chandrababu Naidu said Mr. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had betrayed the nation. He said the public mandate that brought them to power also had the strength to overthrow them.
 
"If BJP tries to victimize our leaders and harass the public, it will pay a heavy price. We will fight fearlessly to save democracy," he said.
 
"All the leaders forming the Mahagathbandhan have one ambition, ‘Save India, Save Democracy'. Since coming to power, the BJP govt has used every strategy to divide the people. We have united India and a new Prime Minister will rise out of this union," he said.
 
Mr. Kumaraswamy said the government at the Centre was headed by "undemocratic persons". He said demonetisation had hit the poor in the country hard, especially in the rural areas. He said it was sad that the Union Government had turned a deaf ear to the needs and woes of the people.
 
Mr. Stalin said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be the second war of independence. He said Mr. Modi was sure that he would not get a second term as Prime Minister and that is way he was fiercely attacking the Opposition at every opportunity.
 
"He is afraid of our unity. We must come together to protect India," he said.
 
Dr. Farooq Abdullah said there was a need to save India from the BJP, which  was dividing people on religious lines. He said the parties present must fight the elections together, pointing out that the question of who should become the Prime Minister could be decided later.
 
Mr. Tejashwi Yadav said the opposition parties were united in their diversity and would not be scared by the government's intimidation tactics.
 
Mr. Arun Shourie said no Government had said so many lies or undermined institutions as the Modi regime had done. "We all should have one aim, of removing BJP from the Centre," he said. He said the Opposition must ensure a single candidate against the BJP in all constitutuencies and urged them to hold rallies in every corner of the country.
 
Mr. Yashwant Sinha said it was not about removing one man from power but about coming together to defeat an ideology.
 
Shatrughan Sinha said people kept asking him why he spoke against the BJP when he was still in the party. "The mood of the nation is for 'parivartan' (change). People want a new leader," he said.
 
"If speaking truth is rebellion then you should consider me a rebel. Along with truth, I also don't compromise with principles," he said.
 
Mr. Jayant Chaudhary said Ms. Banerjee had united the Opposition and said it was imperative to get rid of Mr. Modi from the Centre.
 
Hardik Patel, who was invited to be the first speaker, said, "Subhas Chandra Bose had given a slogan to fight against ‘goro’ (Britishers), we are fighting against ‘choro’ (thieves),” he said.
 
Mr. Jignesh Mevani said the country was facing an unprecedented crisis with the exploitation of the poor, minorities and Dalits under the present regime.
 
Mr. Pu Lalduhoma of Zoram Nationalist Party of Mizoram said minorities felt unsafe under the BJP-led NDA government.
 
Mr. Hemant Soren said the BJP must be uprooted from not just the Centre but the States, too.
 
Thousands of people turned up for the rally. The TMC put up flexes and posters with photographs of the visiting leaders on roads leading to the venue of the rally from the airport.
 
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Calcutta HC gives conditional nod to BJP's rath yatra in Bengal

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday gave conditional permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rath Yatra rallies, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.
Calcutta High Court (File photo: IANS)
Calcutta High Court (File photo: IANS)
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday gave conditional permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rath Yatra rallies, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.
 
The state government had last week rejected BJP's plea to hold the 'Rath Yatra', touted as the 'save democracy rally', saying there was "grave apprehension of major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath" of the programme.
 
The BJP had moved a single bench of the Calcutta High Court on December 17 after the Bengal government's decision and proposed December 22, 24 and 26 as fresh dates for the three Rath Yatra rallies.
 
Acting on a fresh plea filed by the saffron party, Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty allowed the rallies to be taken out, but said the organisers have to inform the police superintendent of the district concerned 12 hours before taking out the yatra.
 
He said the organisers would be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property during the rallies and directed the state police to deploy adequate force to ensure that there is no breach of law and order.
 
The court has also asked the organisers to make sure that rallies do not affect the vehicular traffic on the state highways and arterial roads.
 
Welcoming the verdict, the state BJP leadership termed it as a victory of democracy and said they would hold discussion with the party's senior leadership in Delhi before officially announcing the dates.
 
"We welcome the verdict. It is a victory of democracy and the democracy-loving people of the state. We will follow the court's directives to conduct the rallies. The court has not mentioned any dates in its verdict. As of now our dates are as announced earlier. But we will discuss the matter and take the final call," said state BJP leader Jay Prakash Majumder after the verdict.
 
"We ask the Trinamool Congress activists not to impede us from conveying our message to the common people. Let the people decide whether they would accept us or not. That is how a democracy should function. So Trinamool should not create any obstruction in our programmes," he added.
 
When asked if the party is ready to fight the state government which may move a division bench in the High Court to seek a stay on the current order, the BJP leader said, "They have the right to do so. But we have said before that no one would be able to stop BJP's 'save democracy' rallies. We have full faith in court and the constitution."
 
The BJP was originally scheduled to hold three Rath Yatra rallies from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Parganas district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town of Tarapith, flagged off by party president Amit Shah on 7, 9 and 14 respectively. These rallies were meant to touch all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state before converging at Kolkata in January.
 
IANS
 

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Kolkata bridge collapse: Rescue operations on, suo motu case lodged

Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.
 
Kolkata bridge collapse: rescue efforts on
 
 
Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.
 
A part of the Majherhat Bridge between Taratala and Mominpur collapsed around 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday in south Kolkata, crushing a person to death and injuring 19 others.
 
"Two persons are still missing and a suo motu case has been lodged under IPC 304 and 308 against responsible persons," police said.
 
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), fire brigade and personnel of disaster management teams are at the spot.
 
Cranes have been deployed and gas cutters are being used for the rescue operation. Three columns of army personnel are also present at the spot.
 
"Our team is still working on the rescue. Overnight and this morning, we tried to dig holes in the concrete slab decks that caved in to find out whether anyone is still trapped underneath.
 
"Cameras are also being used to find out what remains below the debris. Removing the rubble would take more time," a member of the rescue team said on Wednesday.
 
The West Bengal government has initiated a probe into the incident. "Investigations are going on. At this point, we cannot come to any conclusion regarding the possible reasons behind the accident," a member of the forensic team said.
 
Pedestrians and commuters in buses and cars who were on the collapsed structure were rescued.
 
The bridge was the main connector between central and southwest part of the city. Due to the partial collapse of the bridge, traffic has been diverted. Tram services on some routes have been withdrawn, a Kolkata Traffic Control official said.
 
Goods vehicles' movement has been restricted on some of the arterial roads between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
 
State government will pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Soumen Bagh, who died in the accident.
 
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State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said on Tuesday that heavy construction work of the metro project beside the collapsed bridge could have weakened its pillars.
 
City metro railway authority, however, ruled out any such possibility.
 
Amid blame game over the partial collapse of the bridge, the Eastern Railway said it was not conducting any maintenance work at the accident site.
 
However, experts said the bridge was very old and as such structural defect or use of inferior quality material cannot be cited as the reason for the collapse.
 
They said the bridge has been withstanding heavy vehicles for more than 40 years and that the only reason that may have triggered the collapse could be "lack of maintenance".
 
According to a state official, the 40-year-old bridge was constructed by the Kolkata Port Trust and maintained by State Public Works Department.
 
However, a Kolkata Port Trust official said it does not have any records that show the bridge was constructed by it.
 
IANS
 

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16 dead, 63 injured as under-construction flyover collapses in Kolkata

At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata on Thursday.
 
Kolkata: 10 dead in under-construction bridge collapse
 
At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata today.
 
Police sources told NetIndian that the 16 dead included 14 men and two women, all of whom were crushed under the tonnes of concrete and steel that came crashing on them around 1215 pm today without any warning.
 
They said nearly 60 others had been taken to various hospitals in the city for treatment of injuries.
 
Officials feared the number of casualties could increase as search and rescue teams made their way through the mangled steel and concrete through the night.
 
Army personnel and teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) joined the local police, the fire brigade, other agencies and hundreds of volunteers in a massive rescue effort with specialised equipment, sniffer dogs and so on.
 
Several people were feared trapped below the debris of the bridge and frantic efforts were being made to reach them without loss of time. As people dug through the rubble, they found cars, taxis and other vehicles trapped under the concrete.
 
Hundreds of people of the locality and passers-by rushed to the spot and began trying to remove the debris with their bare hands, using whatever equipment they could lay their hands on, even as the authorities made arrangements to rush cranes, gas cutters and other machinery as well as ambulancesto the scene. 
 
Scores of witnesses told journalists at the scene that they heard a loud rumble and then a massive thud as the huge bridge suddenly came down without any warning.
 
Footage from a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera in the area showed people going about their normal business and traffic moving as usual under the flyover when it suddenly came crashing down.
 
Traffic in the entire area came to a total standstill and there were traffic snarls in several nearby areas as a consequence.
 
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was campaigning for the state assembly elections outside Kolkata, rushed back to the state capital and visited the scene of the tragedy.
 
She said stringent action would be taken against officials of the construction company, the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Limited, or any others found guilty of negligence.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in the United States on an official visit, took stock of the situation and expressed shock and grief over the incident.
 
“Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation and rescue operations. 
 
"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was touring West Bengal as part of the BJP's election campaign, asked the Director General, NDRF, Mr. O.P.Singh, to rush rescue teams to the spot.
 
An official press release said seven NDRF teams had been deputed to the site and two more teams were being mobilized for the rescue operations.
 
"I am deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident," he added.
 
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Modi invokes spirit of Team India; says Centre, states must work together

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Delhi alone will not run nation: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Addressing a public meeting after dedicating to the nation the 2.5 million tonne modernised and expanded IISCO steel plant at Burnpur in West Bengal, he mentioned various instances of cooperative federalism of recent months, including the setting up of the NITI Aayog, and the devolution of additional revenues to the States through acceptance of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. 
 
He also mentioned that the decades-old land boundary issue between India and Bangladesh had been successfully resolved through the same spirit of Team India, with all state governments concerned and political parties coming together to support a solution of the problem.
 
He said the nation would move ahead faster when the Centre and the states worked together.
 
"Sadly Centre-State relations were tensed for a long time. I have been Chief Minister for a long time and I know that such behaviour will not be good. We have brought in a change, we focused on co-operative federalism. Delhi alone will not run the nation," he said.
 
"India will not change without a 'Team India'. The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers are one team that will take India ahead. The nation is bigger than any party," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said the time had now come for India to address the issue of "geographical imbalance" along with the economic and social imbalances. He said that eastern India, too, should develop as fast as western India is developing, and for that, development of West Bengal is essential. 
 
"The eastern part of India has immense potential. The people are also skilled," he said.
 
He said District Mineral Foundations would be set up to help speed up progress and welfare of the poor in mineral-rich districts. He said that, within a year, the atmosphere of gloom in the country had lifted, and all global rating agencies were now agreed that India is among the world's fastest growing economies.
 
"A year ago the world had a different perception about India. Now the world says in one voice that India is a fast growing economy," he added.
 
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TMC MLA, 12 councillors join BJP

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In another blow to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, an MLA from her party joined the BJP on Tuesday.
 
TMC MLA from Bongaon Biswajit Das joined BJP in the presence of senior leaders such as Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mukul Roy.
 
Das was accompanied by 12 TMC councillors and Congress spokesperson Prasanjeet Ghosh.
 
On Monday, TMC MLA Sunil Singh, along with the 15 TMC councillors and another Congress councillor, had joined the BJP in the presence of West Bengal BJP leaders. 
 
"The BJP has emerged as a strong player in West Bengal politics and is the first preference for those who want peace and development in the state," Vijayvargiya had said earlier.
 
The BJP leader alleged that under the leadership of Banerjee, democracy had vanished from the state.
 
IANS
 

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Former Miss India Universe chased and attacked in Kolkata, 7 held

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Seven persons were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly attacking former Miss India Universe Ushoshi Sengupta here and vandalising the cab she was travelling in, a senior Kolkata Police officer said.
 
Sengupta, the winner of Miss India Universe pageant in 2010, was attacked on Monday night while coming back from a five-star hotel in Kolkata in an Uber cab. 
 
"Seven persons -- Sheik Rahit, Fardin Khan, Sk. Sabir Ali, Sk. Gani, Sk. Imran Ali, Sk. Wasim and Atif Khan have been arrested on Tuesday for allegedly harassing the complainant, assaulting an Uber driver and vandalising the cab. A detailed inquiry is going on into the case," Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police, Crime, Praveen Tripathi said. 
 
Following the attack, the model-turned-actress posted about the incident on social media where she claimed that the gang of miscreants tried to drag her out when she was dropping her colleague.
 
"Last night 17th June 2019 at around 11:40 pm I took an uber from JW Marriott Kolkata. I was accompanied by my colleague. We were taking a left turn from the Exide crossing towards Elgin while few boys in a bike (without helmet) came and hit the Uber. To which they stopped the bike and started yelling at the driver. 
 
"In a fraction of second there were 15 boys and they all started banging the car window and dragging the driver out. They dragged the driver and started beating him up. This is when I stepped out and started shouting taking a video of the incident," Sengupta wrote in a Facebook post which has gone viral. 
 
"The boys followed us till my colleague's house and right when we were dropping him near lake gardens govt housing, 6 of the boys in 3 bikes came and stopped my car, threw stones, broke the car. Dragged me out and tried to break my phone to delete the video. My colleague jumped out out of fear and I was completely shaken. I came out started shouting by now the locals had come out," she said. 
 
In her post, Sengupta also questioned how 15 boys were allowed to travel on bikes without helmet and said such incidents can happen to anybody. 
 
IANS
 

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Mamata to skip all-party meet, demands white paper on 'One Country, One Election'

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Indicating that she would skip the meeting of presidents of all political parties convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday wrote to the Centre saying it should not go about "hurriedly" on a "sensitive and serious subject" like 'One Country, One Election'.
 
In a letter to Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, who formally invited her to the meeting, Banerjee demanded a white paper be circulated among all political parties seeking their views by providing them "adequate time".
 
Banerjee also opposed development of 'aspirational districts', arguing it would not conform to the objective of achieving a balanced and uniform development of all districts.
 
"I have gone through the agenda of the meeting. In this context, I would like to mention that a proper response on such a sensitive and serious subject like the 'One Country, One Election' in such a short time would not do justice to the subject it deserves. The matter requires consultations with constitutional experts, election experts and above all the party members.
 
"Instead of doing the matter hurriedly, I would request you to kindly circulate a White Paper on the subject to all political parties inviting their views by providing adequate time. If you only do so, we will be able to give concrete suggestions on this important subject," she said.
 
The Prime Minister has convened the meeting of heads of all parties who have representation in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha to deliberate on a number of issues including the 'One Nation, One Election' idea, as also the celebration of 75 years of independence in 2022 and 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary this year.
 
On the matter of development of aspirational districts, Banerjee informed Joshi that her party Trinamool Congress has already conveyed to the NITI Aayog at its June 15 meeting that it did not support "selection of a few districts as aspirational districts as it would not conform to the overall objectives of achieving balanced and uniform development of all the districts of the state"
 
"Our state is committed to ensuring social and economic development of all districts uniformly so that regional imbalances do not rise," she said.
 
Banerjee said she and her party would wholeheartedly participate in the celebration of the country's 75th independence and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
 
Banerjee has been on a collision course with the Centre and scaled up her fight by skipping the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister and his new Council of Ministers late last month. She also stayed away from the June 15 NITI Aayog governing council meeting.
 
IANS
 

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Bengal's week-long health services logjam over as doctors end strike

The week-long junior doctors' strike across state-run hospitals in West Bengal was withdrawn on Monday shortly after a meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and representatives of the agitating medics from various medical colleges.
Representatives of the striking doctors of the state-run NRS Medical College and Hospital address a press conference at the hospital in Kolkata on June 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Representatives of the striking doctors of the state-run NRS Medical College and Hospital address a press conference at the hospital in Kolkata on June 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The week-long junior doctors' strike across state-run hospitals in West Bengal was withdrawn on Monday shortly after a meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and representatives of the agitating medics from various medical colleges.
 
"We withdraw our strike after our meeting with the Chief Minister. The meeting has been positive and fruitful. We appeal to all junior doctors across Bengal to resume work as soon as possible. We have decided to give time to the state government to implement our proposals raised in the meeting," a representative of the striking doctors said at the state-run NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the movement.
 
Earlier in the day, a 31-member team of junior doctors from all the state-run medical colleges in West Bengal participated in the meeting with Banerjee and senior state government officials at the state secretariat Nabanna where a 12-point charter of demands related to doctors' security, hospital infrastructure and patient-doctor relationship was discussed at length.
 
The doctors demanded exemplary action against the attackers in the NRS incident and urged the Chief Minister to issue a "strong written or verbal message against such offenders".
 
Banerjee termed the over one-and-a-half-hour long meeting as "positive and productive" and urged the doctors' to immediately end the strike for the sake of the ailing patients. The young doctors said they were eager to get back to work, calling the deliberations a "move towards the positive direction".
 
The Chief Minister promised to ensure on-ground implementation of the proposals discussed during the deliberations.
 
Accepting the proposals from the medics, she announced a dedicated mobile number and email address for doctors to lodge complaints of assault, appointment of nodal officers in medical college to monitor security and asked police to take immediate action in cases of attack on medical practitioners.
 
She told the state Health Department officials to increase the visibility of patients' grievance cells in all hospitals and hold campaigns to make the patient parties aware of their existence.
 
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi also welcomed the resolution of the ongoing crisis caused by the state-wide strike of doctors.
 
At NRS, relief was writ large on the faces of many terminally-ill patients, afflicted with diseases like renal failure and cancer.
 
It was the end of the ordeal for Chirashri Bhattacharya, who had to constantly boost the morale of her ailing mother, with whom she spent six days on the pavement outside the NRS hospital waiting for treatment.
 
Her ageing father, who accompanied his wife and Chirashri on the pavement, seemed a relieved man.
 
"My mother Pragati Bhattacharya, 70, has a kidney problem. She needs immediate treatment and is unable to bear the pain and tremendous heat," Chirashri, a resident of Bolpur in Birbhum district, told IANS.
 
Loud cheers, whistles, and claps greeted the announcement of the withdrawal of the junior doctors' strike, as the protesting young medicos rejoiced at their victory.
 
"It is our victory," said an intern, who had been shouting "We want justice" through the seven days of the "cease work" that started in protest against the brutal attack on two junior doctors by family members of a dead patient at the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital on Monday night.
 
The the issue snowballed, as doctors across the state stopped work at the outpatient departments in most government hospitals, while angry medicos all over the country erupted in protest against the assault on their colleagues in Bengal.
 
The representatives of the striking doctors were cheered and carried on shoulders by their jubilant colleagues on their return to the hospital.
 
The meeting, originally scheduled for 3 p.m., was preceded by high drama as the junior doctors stuck to their demand for live media coverage of the deliberations.
 
The formal invite from the government had agreed to the doctors' demand for recording the proceedings of the meeting, but had no mention of live coverage.
 
As the protesting medics refused to budge, at around 2.40 p.m., the government yielded to the demand, following which the junior doctors' representatives boarded the bus for Nabanna to attend the meeting which got delayed by almost an hour.
 
Shortly after the meeting, Banerjee went to visit the injured NRS junior doctor -- Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, who was beaten up following a patient's death at the hospital last week and has been admitted at a private medical facility in south Kolkata.
 
IANS
 

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Junior doctors call off strike in West Bengal

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The week-long junior doctors' strike across state-run hospitals in West Bengal was called off on Monday following a meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and representatives of the agitating medics.
 
"We withdraw our strike after our meeting with the Chief Minister. The meeting has been positive and fruitful. We appeal to all junior doctors across Bengal to resume work as soon as possible. We have decided to give time to the state government to implement our proposals raised in the meeting," a representative of the striking doctors said at the state-run NRS Medical College and Hospital.
 
West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi also welcomed the resolution of the ongoing crisis caused by the state-wide strike of doctors.
 
IANS
 

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Impasse to end as Mamata, doctors term meeting 'positive'

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The week-long junior doctors' strike across state-run hospitals in West Bengal seemed headed for a resolution on Monday after a meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and representatives of the agitating medics from various medical colleges, which was broadcast live on television.
 
While Banerjee termed the over one-and-a-half-hour long meeting as "positive and productive" and urged the doctors' to immediately end the strike for the sake of the ailing patients, the young doctors said they were eager to get back to work, calling the deliberations a "move towards the positive direction".
 
A 31-member team of junior doctors from all the state-run medical colleges in West Bengal participated in the meeting with Banerjee and senior state government officials at the state secretariat Nabanna where issues related to doctors' security, hospital infrastructure and patient-doctor relationship were discussed at length.
 
Visibly happy with the outcome of the meeting, Banerjee thanked the junior doctors for putting forward their suggestions and requested them to resume medical services immediately. She also promised to ensure on-ground implementation of the proposals discussed during the deliberations.
 
"Thanks for coming here and giving your suggestions. I have come to know about many pending issues during today's meeting, which has been very positive and productive. I request all of you to withdraw the strike. A lot of patients are suffering. If you promise to withdraw the strike, they will get the assurance," Banerjee told the doctors towards the end of the meeting.
 
The meeting, originally scheduled for 3 p.m., was preceded by high drama as the junior doctors stuck to their demand for live media coverage of the deliberations.
 
The formal invite from P. K. Mitra, Director, Medical Education, had agreed to the doctors' demand for recording the proceedings of the meeting, but had no mention of live coverage.
 
"The discussion will focus on all your demands. I also confirm that the discussions and resolutions taken in this meeting shall be recorded, and duly communicated to you," the letter said.
 
However, the protesting doctors refused to budge, and categorically said that they would go to Nabbanna only if there was an official confirmation of live media coverage.
 
At around 2.40 p.m., the government yielded to the demand, following which the junior doctors' representatives boarded the bus for Nabanna for the meeting which got delayed by almost an hour.
 
During the meeting, which was held in a congenial environment, the doctors demanded exemplary action against the attackers in the NRS incident and urged the Chief Minister to issue a "strong written or verbal message against such offenders". 
 
They also said that there should be on-ground implementation of the proposals that were taken up in the meeting.
 
Banerjee, on her part, asked the police to appoint nodal officers for the security of doctors at all the government hospitals in the state and take immediate action in cases of attack on medics.
 
"The police have to be more active and vigilant. Actions should be initiated against those who forcefully enter hospitals and assault doctors. Otherwise, complaints should be lodged against the concerned police personnel and actions will be taken," Banerjee said.
 
"Appoint dedicated nodal officers for addressing such problems at the hospitals. The officers should focus only on tackling patients' agitation and work in coordination with the local officers," she told Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma, who was present at the meeting along with Director General of Police Virendra, Chief Secretary Malay Kumar Dey, Home Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay and senior officers of the health department.
 
Banerjee also urged the state health department officials to increase the visibility of grievance cells in all hospitals and hold campaigns to make the patients aware of their existence.
 
"There are grievance cells in most hospitals but many patients and patient parties do not know about them. So set up the grievance cells at locations visible to everyone in the hospital. 
 
"Put out hoardings in Bengali, English and Hindi so that everyone can understand. Also, hold campaigns and put up ads so that people know about them. That way, if something goes wrong, people will know that they can lodge a complaint instead of attacking the doctors," the Chief Minister noted.
 
When asked by the junior doctors to visit their colleague Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, who was severely injured in the NRS hospital incident last Monday, Banerjee said she would go as soon as the strike was withdrawn.
 
IANS
 

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Striking doctors ready to meet Mamata -- in media's presence

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The striking doctors in West Bengal on Sunday decided to hold talks with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to immediately end the impasse but said there should be media coverage of the deliberations to avoid discrepancies.
 
"The last press interview by our honourable Chief Minister was full of discrepancies which had led to false propagation of the motive behind our protests and the response of the government to it. Hence it needs clarification," a representative of the protesting doctors of the NRS Medical College and Hospital said after a general body meeting on day six of the strike that has badly hit state-run health services.
 
The meeting was attended by representatives of other hospitals participating in the strike.
 
"We want an immediate end to this impasse through discussions with the CM which, to maintain transparency, shouldn't be behind closed doors. The venue can be chosen by the CM, but that should be able to accommodate representatives of all medical colleges and the national media," he said.
 
"Doctors want to join duty as early as possible in the best interest of health care delivery to the common people once all our demands are met adequately and logically," the representative said.
 
"We are hopeful that our honourable Chief Minister will be considerate enough to solve the problems that our entire state is facing currently," he added.
 
Director of Medical Education Pradip Mitra, who attended the general body meeting, tried to mediate a middle path for the junior doctors and the government.
 
"The doctors had demanded two to five representatives from each medical college be present during their meeting with the Chief Minister. Even if a single delegate from each medical college attends the meeting the figure will be around fifteen and the final number will be decided by the CM," Mitra said.
 
Also, the chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Priyank Kanoongo, who arrived in Kolkata on Saturday night, visited the paediatric wards of some state-run hospitals to assess the condition of patients.
 
"I found that children are not getting treatment and the situation is very pathetic. I will submit a report when I reach Delhi. Children's lives should be everyone's priority and no ego should come in between," Kanoongo said.
 
According to him, the cease-work and the disruption in the health care system should be solved through discussions without letting children suffer.
 
According to informed sources, the doctors and the Chief Minister would hold a meeting on Monday at the state secretariat. However, it is not clear if media coverage of the entire meeting will be allowed.
 
IANS
 

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Patients suffer as Bengal doctors strike enters 6th day

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Health services in West Bengal remained partially disrupted and state-run hospitals wore a deserted look on Sunday morning as the doctors strike entered its sixth day.
 
Sunday being a holiday, the out-patient departments remained closed and the number of patients waiting outside hospitals or visiting the emergency wards was also low. The emergency services, however, functioned normally.
 
The striking doctors across hospitals were looking forward to a general body meeting to be held at the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the protests.
 
The meeting, which will decide the next course of action, will also be attended by representatives of other hospitals participating in the strike. 
 
According to informed sources, the protesting doctors are probably looking for a scope of discussion to end the stalemate.
 
On Friday night, the striking doctors rejected Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's proposal for talks at the state Secretariat, instead asking her to come down to NRS Hospital.
 
West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi wrote to Banerjee advising her to take immediate steps to provide security to the doctors and asking her to take them into confidence. She responded saying that the government was taking required action.
 
"The protest is not just about CCTV, armed security and iron gates. As a doctor, I know the difficulties faced by doctors due to lack of infrastructure at these hospitals," said Sayantan Bandopadhyay.
 
Bandopadhyay is relative of doctor Paribaha Mukherjee, who was attacked up by the kin of a 75-year-old patient who died, allegedly of medical negligence, at NRS Hospital late on Monday night.
 
The attack triggered off the strike by the doctors that has since brought medical services in the state to a standstill. 
 
"I appeal the doctors to resume their work as I don't want innocent patients to die," said Mohammed Shabir, a relative of the deceased patient.
 
IANS
 

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Mamata appeals to doctors again, says ESMA won't be invoked

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday again appealed to the agitating junior doctors in the state to end their strike, assuring them that her government would not invoke ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) against them.
 
She said the state government is working to find a "peaceful solution" to the problem, and that it is ready to consider demands put forward by the doctors for their security inside hospitals.
 
"I have already appealed to everyone related to the medical fraternity to end the impasse for the sake of the ailing patients. I would again appeal to the junior doctors to end the agitation. We are always open to discussion," Banerjee said at the state secretariat, Nabanna.
 
"Yesterday (Friday) I had waited for taks with the junior doctors for nearly five hours, but they did not arrive. They told senior doctors that they would come today. So I along with my team of administrators waited for them. But they have not come today either. I would appeal to everyone to join the work," she said.
 
Citing examples of several states such as Delhi, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu which had invoked ESMA to break the doctors' movement, Banerjee promised her government would not initiate any such administrative steps.
 
"So many states already used this Act because the profession of doctors is considered noble. Our government, too, has the provision. But we want to deal with the issue in a humanitarian and democratic way. So, we have neither invoked ESMA nor cancelled anybody's registration, or arrested anybody," she said.
 
When asked whether she would go to the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the doctor's movement, as per the demand of the agitators, Banerjee refused to answer.
 
"I will not tell you whether I will go somewhere or not. I think the state secretariat is the best place to hold a meeting with government officials in a democratic manner. I had gone to SSKM Hospital that day and waited for three hours, but no one came to talk to me," she said.
 
"One should respect institutions... when the government is calling them to hold a discussion, they continue to refuse... I wanted to talk to them over phone after the incident, but they refused to talk. Senior government officials also went to talk and asked them to come, but they refused," she alleged, adding all actions have been taken by the state administration.
 
Banerjee said a few "outsiders" with vested interest are trying to provoke the junior doctors and urged them not to fall in that trap.
 
"Some outsiders are trying to provoke. They are making one-sided comments. We have accepted all their demands and have taken all the necessary action. Please join the work because the patients are suffering. A number of children have died in the last few days," she added.
 
IANS
 

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3 Trinamool workers killed in Bengal's Murshidabad

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Three Trinamool Congress workers were allegedly shot dead in West Bengal's Murshidabad district on Saturday, police said.
 
"Three persons were killed when a group of miscreants allegedly fired bullets and hurled bombs at them in Domkal's Kuchiyamora village. The bodies have been sent for autopsy," said an officer from Domkal police station. 
 
"We have heard that they were active Trinamool Congress workers. Our senior officers are investigating whether there was any political motive behind the killings," he said. 
 
Family members of two of the deceased accused BJP-backed miscreants of the murders. 
 
"These people are convicts in another murder case. They were after me as I am one of the witnesses. Yesterday, they came here and killed my uncle and nephew after they could not find me in the house," said a relative of the deceased persons. 
 
Police said raids were on in the area but no arrests had been made so far. 
 
IANS
 

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Bengal junior doctors reject Mamata ultimatum, continue strike

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Services in a large number of state-run hospitals in West Bengal continued to be paralysed for the third day on Thursday after striking junior doctors rejected a four-hour ultimatum from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw the agitation and restore normalcy.
 
Facing noisy demonstrations from the striking medicos at SSKM Hospital, an angry Banerjee even threatened to promulgate the stringent Essential Services Maintenance Act, but the junior doctors refused to budge and instead asked her to apologise for "casting aspersions" on them.
 
The junior doctors also demanded she come to the NRS Medical College and Hospital - the epicentre of the protests.
 
Banerjee visited the state-run Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial (SSKM) Hospital around noon, as the protesting doctors continued to raise slogans, shouting "We want justice".
 
"The Chief Minister's words are laced with threats. The cease-work could have been controlled had she paid a visit here and given a patient hearing to our demands. We will carry on our movement as our demands haven't been fulfilled," one of the protesting doctors at NRS said.
 
Banerjee's harsh words resulted in the resumption of emergency services at the SSKM, where senior doctors took charge, but there was a hardening of posture on the part of the striking junior doctors, who lashed out at the Chief Minister for having called them "outsiders", "urban Naxals" , "CPI(M) cadre" and "BJP workers".
 
They held a general body meeting and decided to continue the strike.
 
With the strikers unrelenting, Banerjee urged senior doctors to run the hospitals "smoothly and peacefully".
 
"Please take care of all patients. The poor people are coming from all districts. I will be honoured and obliged if you all please take full care of the hospitals," Banerjee wrote to the senior doctors.
 
Meanwhile, the protesting doctors at the NRS alleged they were attacked by hoodlums in a bid to break the agitation. One intern was injured.
 
"The hooligans pelted stones and threw water bottles. It is a shame that an intern of another medical college who was here to show us support got injured," a doctor said.
 
A seven-member delegation of junior doctors met governor Keshri Nath Tripathi and apprised him of the prevailing unrest in various medical colleges in the state and requested his intervention.
 
Earlier in the day, Banerjee termed the continuation of cease-work by the doctors despite the action taken by the government and the police, as a "political conspiracy".
 
On the other hand, Union Minister Babul Supriyo sympathised with the doctors, but advised them not to make the patients suffer.
 
"Whatever happened in #NRS is deplorable & a strong protest is very valid but it's also true that making other patients, including small babies, suffer due for no fault of theirs is also not something u can really justify," Supriyo tweeted.
 
"Strong action will b taken against U Hon'ble CM of WB, by the people of Bengal! People r suffering bcoz of your sick egotistical mentality - no one is safe in WB till U & ur dirty Vote-Bank politics prevail here. It's a shame u can't say a simple sorry 2 the injured Young Doctors," Supriyo said.
 
Interestingly, condemning the government's role in the NRS case, Urban Development Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim's daughter Shabba Hakim (also a doctor), wrote, "We have a right to peaceful protest. We have a right to safety at work. P.S. as a TMC supporter I am deeply ashamed at the inaction and the silence of our leader".
 
Banerjee reiterated her experience at SSKM hospital and expressed disgust over the role of other political parties.
 
"Today when I visited SSKM, I saw gatherings of outsiders of different political parties shouting slogans in hospital silence zones and stopping emergency services. Patient parties are crying and outdoor services are closed," she wrote on Facebook.
 
Meanwhile, the administration of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital opened the gates after Banerjee's ultimatum and resumed emergency services which were stopped after four junior doctors were injured as outsiders hurled stones during the protest on Wednesday.
 
However, the junior doctors of the hospital continued their sit-in protest.
 
The protests erupted at the state-run NRS Hospital on Tuesday morning bringing regular services to a standstill, after a junior doctor was allegedly beaten up by the kin of a 75-year-old patient who died there late on Monday night. The family members of the deceased patient alleged medical negligence. 
 
An intern named Paribaha Mukherjee sustained a serious skull injury in the attack and was admitted in the intensive care unit of the Institute of Neurosciences.
 
With improvement in his condition, Mukherjee has been shifted to the general bed and will be released from the hospital within the next two days.
 
IANS
 

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2 killed, 3 injured in bomb attack in Bengal

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Two persons were killed and three injured after bombs were allegedly hurled in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district, police said on Tuesday.
 
The incident was reported from Baruipara in Kankinara area on Monday night. 
 
Claiming that the victims were their supporters, the state's ruling Trinamool Congress district President and Minister Jyotipriya Mallick alleged that bombs were hurled at them by miscreants backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
BJP's Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh, however, denied the allegations.
 
The two deceased were identified as Mohammed Mukhtar and Mohammed Halim, police said.
 
The incident took place when the family members of Mukhtar were sitting outside their house, police said.
 
Halim died on the spot while Mukhtar succumbed at the hospital, police said. Mukhtar's wife who was critically injured was undergoing treatment at a hospital along with the other two, the police added.
 
IANS
 

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Singer-actress Ruma Guha Thakurta passes away

Ruma Guha Thakurta (File photo: IANS)
Ruma Guha Thakurta (File photo: IANS)
Celebrated Bengali singer-actress Ruma Guha Thakurta died at her residence here on Monday following old age-related problems, family sources said. She was 84.
 
Founder of the Calcutta Youth Choir (CYC), which played a stellar role in popularising 'gana sangeet' or mass songs in Bengal, she showcased her talent in a number of Hindi and Bengali movies working with celebrated directors like Satyajit Ray, Tapan Sinha and Tarun Majumdar.
 
Born Ruma Ghosh in Kolkata in 1934, she married legendary singer Kishore Kumar in 1951 and the couple's only child Amit Kumar was born next year. The couple divorced in 1958 and that year Guha Thakurta formed the CYC with composer Salil Chowdhury and Ray.
 
The choir rendered with aplomb the Bengali translations of popular mass songs from various languages. Their discs were lapped up by music lovers.
 
In 1974, the CYC, under her direction, won the first prize at the Copenhagen Youth Festival.
 
After her divorce from Kishore Kumar, she married Arup Guha Thakurta. They have a son Ayan and a daughter Sramana, a noted singer.
 
She has done playback for a number of films including "Lukochuri", "Tin Kanya" (directed by Ray), "Baksho Badal" and "Amitra Kumbher Sandhane".
 
Beginning with the Hindi film "Jwar Bhata" in 1944, she acted in "Mashaal", "Afsar" and "Rag Rang" in Bollywood, before moving into Bengali films with Rajen Tarafdar's classic "Ganga" in 1952.
 
Under Ray's direction, Guha Thakurta acted in "Abhijaan" and "Ganasahtru" while playing prominent roles in three of Sinha's films "Nirjan Saikate", "Khaniker Atithi" and "Wheel Chair". 
 
Majumdar directed her in "Polatak", "Balika Bodhu" and the evergreen comedy "Dadar Kirti". She also acted in Aparna Sen's maiden directorial venture "36 Chowringhee Lane".
 
In 2006, she acted in Mira Nair's English movie "The Namesake", which was her last film.
 
IANS
 

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Several injured as violence continues in Bengal

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Several persons were injured as clashes between workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) continued in West Bengal, police said on Saturday.
 
Activists of both sides were beaten up while incidents of ransacking houses and damage to vehicles were reported across districts.
 
Over a dozen people were injured in a clash between workers of the BJP and Trinamool in North 24 Parganas Madhyamgram area after supporters of the saffron parties were allegedly forced not to raise slogans of 'Jai Shri Ram', police said.
 
Trinamool supporters held a protest demonstration against the alleged "hooliganism" against the BJP in front of the local police station.
 
In South 24 Parganas' Canning area, a couple was threatened and beaten up by some miscreants backed allegedly by Trinamool for supporting the BJP during the campaign of the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.
 
BJP Mahila Morcha supporters in Hooghly's Tarokeswar on Saturday accused local Trinamool leaders of attacking them during a meeting, held in front of the local municipality office.
 
"They attacked and abused our members during a meeting. They were angry because the BJP took the lead in Tarokeswar Arambag Lok Sabha constituency which was though retained by Trinamool by a slender margin," said a local member of BJP's Mahila Morcha.
 
Trinamool, however, denied such allegations. 
 
A Trinamool party office was vandalised allegedly by BJP activists in East Medinipur district's Khejuri, notorious for political violence, and police vehicles were damaged by the agitators.
 
"Clashes between two groups erupted intermittently and two our vehicles were attacked. Two persons have been arrested," police said.
 
State ruling party supporters alleged that bombs were hurled while houses of their activists and party offices were vandalised and flags were torn allegedly by the BJP supporters on Friday night in Birbhum district's Parui.
 
IANS
 

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Veteran industrialist B. M. Khaitan passes away at 92

B M Khaitan
B M Khaitan
Veteran industrialist and Williamson Magor Group patriarch Brij Mohan Khaitan died on Saturday at his residence here. He was 92.
 
He was suffering from old-age ailments, according to company sources.
 
Khaitan had recently resigned as Chairman of the group's flagship companies, Eveready Industries and McLeod Russel, citing his old age. He became Chairman Emeritus for both the companies.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her condolences.
 
"Saddened at the passing away of noted industrialist BM Khaitan Ji. He was a much respected elder statesman of the business community of Bengal. My condolences to his family, his colleagues and his friends," Banerjee said on Twitter.
 
IANS
 
 

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Another Trinamool MLA joins BJP, Mamata's party says not concerned

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West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Wednesday suffered another jolt as one of its prominent Muslim faces, MLA Monirul Islam, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
Islam, elected from Labpur constituency, and several office-bearers of the Trinamool Congress in Birbhum district joined the saffron camp at the BJP headquarters in Delhi in the presence of its General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and senior leader Mukul Roy.
 
They include Gadadhar Hazra, a former Trinamool MLA, Asif Iqbal and Nimai Das. Iqbal and Das are district office bearers of the party.
 
A state minister, however, played down the defection, saying it was "not a matter of concern".
 
After their formal induction, Vijayvargiya accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of practising politics of "terror" in the state and claimed she had lost the faith of the people as well party cadres.
 
"People of West Bengal now have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and they feel he can do all-round development of the state," he said.
 
Alleging that Trinamool's Birbhum district chief Anubrata Mondal earned Rs 20 crore a month by extortion, Islam said his defection to the BJP was a protest against Mondal's illegal activities.
 
People rejected Mondal in the Lok Sabha polls as Trinamool lost in five Assembly segments in the district, he said, even though West Bengal's ruling party won both Lok Sabha seats in Birbhum.
 
Islam, a controversial leader, had in 2015 publicly threatened to behead a Congress functionary from Birbhum and went on to claim how he had "squashed" three people under his feet for committing atrocities against women.
 
On Tuesday, three MLAs -- two of the Trinamool and one from the CPI-M -- besides over 60 Trinamool councillors, joined the BJP in the wake of the Trinamool's poor showing in the Lok Sabha election.
 
The Trinamool, however, claimed it would prove its mass support in next year's civic polls and the Assembly polls scheduled in 2021.
 
"Some leaders, who are either associated with general or economic offences or are apprehensive of any action from the Centre, are joining the BJP. It is not a concern for the party. We are not worried about how they will poach our leaders. We will prove that people of Bengal are with Trinamool in 2020 civil polls and 2021 Assembly elections," said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Tapas Roy.
 
But state BJP chief and Medinipur MP Dilip Ghosh said no one has been forced to join the BJP.
 
"Many Trinamool leaders did not want to be associated with their party. They do not accept the dictatorial rule of (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee. In a bid to restrain them from joining the BJP, many Trinamool party leaders were threatened that police cases would be slapped against them," he said.
 
Ghosh also alleged that a large number of Trinamool leaders have been "fed up with the functioning of their party and orders coming from the dictator".
 
IANS
 

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Slain Bengal BJP activists' kin to attend Modi's swearing-in ceremony

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At least 70 family members of slain Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists in West Bengal will attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, a state BJP leader said on Wednesday.
 
The members will reach New Delhi by Rajdhani Express on Thursday morning.
 
The saffron outfit has claimed that 54 of their party activists were killed in the political violence allegedly orchestrated by the Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress in the last one year.
 
"The party has decided to take the family members of our activists, who were killed in widespread political violence unleashed by the Trinamool Congress, to attend Modi ji's oath-taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. We have shortlisted 70 family members so far," BJP state Secretary Tushar Kanti Ghosh told IANS.
 
"One or two family members of each of the deceased activists have been shortlisted. Relatives of approximately 50 of our deceased activists are going. They are scheduled to come back on May 31," he said.
 
Relatives of all three BJP activists -- Sishupal Sahish, Trilochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar -- who were killed and hanged from trees in Bengal's Purulia district are among those going to Delhi.
 
Relatives of the deceased activists, who gathered at the Howrah railway station to board the train on Wednesday afternoon, blamed Trinamool Congress for the tragedy and said they are going to the Prime Minister's swearing ceremony to seek justice.
 
"My son was killed by the police and no one has been punished yet. It is a great opportunity for us to be able to meet the Prime Minister. We will demand CBI inquiry into our son's death. We want the offenders to be punished," said the father of Tapas Barman, one of the two youth BJP activists-cum-students of north Dinajpur district's Darivit High School, who were allegedly shot dead by Bengal police while protesting against the recruitment of Urdu teachers.
 
"My father was killed by the Trinamool Congress backed goons year ago after the state Panchayat elections. BJP had won in our Gram Panchayat. My father resisted some Trinamool supporters against giving proxy votes. After the results came out, they murdered him," said a youth from nadia district's Shantipur.
 
"Most of us have lost our close ones in the violence. We want to urge the Prime Minister to ensure strictest of action against the offenders so that no one else has to lose their father or brother anymore," he said with tears in his eyes.
 
The invitation to these families is being seen as a message to West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee ahead of Assembly elections scheduled in 2021.
 
During the Lok Sabha election campaign, Modi and BJP President Amit Shah repeatedly highlighted the issue of violence directed at the party in West Bengal.
 
The BJP won 303 seats on its own in the Lok Sabha elections, and in West Bengal it took its tally to 18 from two in 2014.
 
IANS
 

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Mamata Banerjee to not attend Modi's swearing-in

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she will not be attending Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony as it is "an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party".
 
Banerjee said she had planned to accept the "ceremonial invitation" but following gross misrepresentation of facts about 54 deaths in poll violence in the state, she decided to skip the oath-taking ceremony to be held on Thursday.
 
About the violence, she stated in her tweet that there has been "no political murders in Bengal". There might have been deaths due to personal enmity, family quarrel and other disputes, she said. "But nothing related to politics. There is no such record with us," she added.
 
She said such turn of events has "compelled" her not to attend the ceremony.
 
IANS
 

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Mamata offers to quit as CM, party doesn't endorse

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Two days after her party suffered serious setbacks in the Lok Sabha elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday offered to step down from the post.
 
Banerjee said that she had expressed her desire to quit the Chief Minister's post at an emergent meeting of the Trinamool Congres, but her decision was not endorsed by those present at the meeting.
 
"I feel insulted. In the meeting I expressed my desire to step down as Chief Minister, but those present did not endorse my decision," Banerjee told mediapersons after the meeting.
 
The meeting was held in the backdrop of Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) stunning show in West Bengal, where it won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats. 
 
This was BJP's best performance in the state since the formation of the party. It had won just two seats in 2014.
 
The Trinamool Congress, which had triumphed in 34 seats five years back, won 22 seats this time around. The Congress got the remaining two seats.
 
IANS
 

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Bengal verdict: BJP wins 13, Trinamool 15 seats

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West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress has won 15 Lok Sabha constituencies and is leading in seven while the BJP has bagged 13 seats and is leading in five. The Congress is leading in two Lok Sabha seats.
 
Babul Supriyo of the Bharatiya Janata Party defeated his nearest rival Trinamol Congress' Moon Moon Sen by 1,97,637 votes in Asansol.
 
Trinamool's veteran and state minister Subrata Mukherjee lost to BJP's Subhas Sarkar in Bankura constituency.
 
S. S. Alhuwalia of the BJP defeated Trinamool Congress' Mamtaz Sanghamita by 2,439 votes in Burwan-Durgapur.
 
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee is leading by over 3,20,678 votes over BHP's Nilanjan Roy
 
Congress MP Adhir Ranjan is leading in Baharampur by 79,694 votes over his nearest Trinamool candidate Apurba Sarkar
 
Trinamool's veteran Sisir Adhikari retained the Kanthi seat by margin of 1,11,668 votes defeating BJP's Debasis Samanta.
 
Kolkata South's Trinamool nominee Mala Roy won by 1,55,192 votes, defeating Chandra Kumar Bose of BJP, Deepak Adhikari (Dev) of Trinamool Congress defeated BJP's Bharati Ghosh by 10,79,973 votes in Ghatal. Rose Valley chit fund scam accused and Trinamool MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay retained Kolkata North seat by a margin of 1,27,095 votes defeating BJP's Rahul Sinha
 
In Barrackpore, BJP's Arjun Singh was leading by 14,857 votes over Trinamool's outgoing MP Dinesh Trivedi.
 
Trinamool's Nusrat Jahan Ruhi is leading over BJP's Sayantan Basu by 3,50,369 votes in Basirhat.
 
Birbhum's Trinamool MP and Bengali actress Satabdi Roy won by 88,924 votes, defeating BJP's Dudh Kumar Mondal.
 
BJP's Sukanta Majumdar defeated Balurghat's Trinamool MP Arpita Ghosh by a margin of 33,293 votes.
 
Soumitra Khan of the BJP defeated Trinamool Congress' Shamyal Santra by 78,047 votes in Bishnupur. 
 
Trinamool's MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar retained her Barasat seat by over a margin of 1,09,983 votes defeating BJP's Mrinal Kanti Debnath.
 
Sougata Roy of Trinamool Congress defeated BJP's Shamik Bhattacharya 53,002 votes in Dumdum. Locket Chatterjee of the BJP defeated Trinamool Congress' Ratna De Nag by 73,362 votes in Hooghly.
 
IANS
 

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