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Bengal's Bhatpara tense again over Left-Congress peace rally (Lead)

Tuesday - June 25, 2019 10:14 pm , Category : INDIA
Kolkata, June 25 (IANS) Tension again built up in West Bengal's Bhatpara after a commotion involving the police and the Left-Congress activists centring on a peace rally in the area on Tuesday.
Bhatpara has been in news due to large-scale political violence for the last one month.
State's Left and Congress leaders on Tuesday organised a peace rally in North 24 Parganas district's Bhatpara area on Tuesday afternoon, but the police stopped the rally stating prohibitory orders under Section 144 were in place in the area.
Rallyists led by Left Front Chairman Biman Bose, CPI-M state general secretary Surjya Kanta Misra and West Bengal Congress President Somen Mitra, broke the barricades and clashed with the police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel in the area as the Ghoshpara Road turned into a battle ground.
Many senior leaders from both parties were seen arguing with the Barrackpore Police Commissioner Manoj Kumar Verma for allowing them to move forward.
"How will peace return if the Trinamool Congress government stops peace rallies like this? They have failed to bring back peace in the area. We are holding this rally for peace and harmony. That's our only demand. There are no political flags or banners in the rally," Left Front Chairman Bose said.
"It seems police do not want peace to be back in the area. They should have encouraged the people to conduct such rallies. They should have encouraged the rally," state Congress chief Somen Mitra said.
The rally was significant, being the first joint political programme by the two forces after they failed to forge a much talked-about alliance in the 2019 polls and performed poorly in the state.
Congress managed to win just two Lok Sabha seats, two less than its tally five years back, while the Left, the former ruling party in Bengal, drew a blank for the first time after independence.
Ahead of the rally, leaders of the LF and Congress had been holding talks for the past few days to start a joint political campaign to break the political polarisation between the BJP and the Trinamool that characterised the recent Lok Sabha polls.
Bhatpara and its adjoining Kankinara, Jagaddal, Naihati areas under the Barrackpore parliamentary constituency have been on the boil since the general election results on May 23.
Leaders of both parties accused the ruling Trinamool Congress and its main challenger BJP of promoting competitive communalism in the state which has led to a political polarisation of votes between the two outfits.
Former Trinamool MLA from Bhatpara Arjun Singh, who defected to the BJP just before the 2019 polls, won the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat while his son Pawan Singh won the Assembly by-election from Bhatpara.
A fresh flare-up in the area on June 20 left two persons dead at least four others injured when the police had to open fire on Thursday, prompting the administration to impose prohibitory orders in the affected areas.

--IANS mgr/ssp/prs