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"Buddha full of sound and fury, little essence"

Wednesday 26 April 2006, by GUHA*Nandini

Kolkata, April 25 : Barely minutes before the Election Commission deadline for canvassing expired for the third phase of polling in Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee chose to train her guns on archrival Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, calling him a 440-volt politician: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In a significant departure from her restrained campaigning style thus far this season, Banerjee took potshots even at Bhattacharjee’s predecessor, Jyoti Basu. “Buddha and Jyoti babu before him used the maximum number of choppers for their campaigns. Who are they to comment on my using choppers for canvassing?” she queried, the sting back in her attack.

Picking up a question on her performance in urban Kolkata (going to the polls on Thursday), Banerjee alleged that people simply “don’t vote” in Bhattacharjee’s constituency, Jadavpur: “The CPI(M) has been ruling for 29 years. Look at their margins - it’s like the rule of thieves and dacoits. Where else would you find the Officer in Charge (OC) of a thana also heading a block? It’s state-sponsored terrorism out here.”

Banerjee didn’t even spare the EC: “The Election Commission tried to give us a clean voter’s list this time, but they had very little time. As far as EPIC is concerned, it is also not foolproof. If you talk of free and fair elections, it is doubtful with the CPI(M) around.” She, however, lauded the EC on organising a five-phase election in Bengal. “It’s no longer a one-day match for the CPI(M),” she said.

Not for once did “Didi” lay claims to the CM’s hot seat after the polls. Asked about Trinamool Congress’s expected tally in Kolkata or the districts, she was non-committal: “In 80 per cent of the seats, the Congress and Trinamool have been able to form an informal mahajot. But I am not an astrologer, I can’t predict results.”

May be the people will vote for a change,” was the furthest she would venture, trying to exude a bit of the old confidence.

See online : The Indian Express

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