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Mamata leads massive procession in Kolkata

March 03, 2012 23:10 IST

In a show of strength, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday led a massive procession of Trinamool Congress supporters, in an apparent answer to a similar show by her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the city four days ago.

Trinamool Congress leaders claimed that the procession was undertaken to protest against a "slander campaign and conspiracy by the Communist Party of India - Marxist in collusion with some TV channels" to undermine the state government.

The chief minister, who joined the procession shortly after her return from north Bengal, waved to the surging crowd of party supporters, who carried posters that warned the CPI-M.

Bhattacharjee had, during his February 29 procession, traversed a five-km distance in the city's southern outskirts in an open jeep. Mamata also boarded a jeep, accompanied by a multitude of cacophonous party supporters.

She was accompanied by party leaders and ministers like Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee, Union minister Mukul Roy, city Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and Member of Parliament Subrata Bakshi.

Blurring the divide between a chief minister and an opposition leader, Banerjee led the Trinamool Congress procession, which looked like a celebration of election victory.

The procession was also an attempt to shore up the government and the party's image in the wake of a series of incidents of rape and political violence rocking the state.

The state government's image had taken a further hit when state Governor M K Narayanan recently said, "Bengal used to be one of the safest places in the country."

Not to be outdone, CPI-M also organised a big procession at Baguihati in North 24-Parganas district to protest against "police harassment" of party workers, particularly chairman of CPI-M-controlled Rajarhat municipality Tapas Chatterjee during the February 28 general strike.

Both the processions caused massive traffic snarls and daily commuters went through a harrowing time while trying to get back home from work.

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