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Injured Mamata gets back on her feet for nat'l anthem

Injured Mamata gets back on her feet for natl anthem
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Nandigram: The high octave campaign trail for the second phase of polls in 30 Assembly constituencies ended on Tuesday with Trinamool Congress (TMC) chairperson Mamata Banerjee standing up, despite having severe leg injuries, as a mark of respect to the national anthem in Nandigram itself where she was allegedly attacked after giving a clarion call to oust BJP this election.

Nandigram on Tuesday was the centre of attraction as it witnessed a rare coincidence when the sitting Chief Minister of the state, who is also the TMC's candidate from the area, campaigned along with Union Home minister Amit Shah and actor-turned-politician Mithun Chakraborty who joined BJP's candidate Suvendu Adhikari for a mega rally.

Banerjee kicked off the campaign with a grand roadshow from Bhangabera to Sonachura at around 11.30 am. With thousands flocking to see her, women standing on both sides of the entire 3 km stretch of the narrow village road, blew conch shells, expressing their gratitude to her for choosing the Nandigram Assembly constituency to contest the polls.

The most interesting part of the roadshow was people from all castes, creed and religion stood side-by-side to welcome Banerjee. Shishika Pakhiti, an 82-year-old man, said: "I am waiting, braving the scorching heat just to get a glimpse of the woman who had single-handedly stood beside the farmers in 2007 and it helped them to save their agricultural lands."

Banerjee upped her ante against the BJP accusing its leaders of bringing in police from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat to threaten voters at all the three public meetings she addressed on Tuesday at Sonachura, Basulichawk and Tangua in Nandigram. In the same breath, she urged the people of the area to stay calm and maintain 'cool' instead of getting swayed away by the saffron party's instigations to create a "riot-like situation". With a day left for the polls, she once again asked people not to cast a single vote in favour of BJP even if they give money as she alleged that the party's Central leadership and deputy chief minister of a state are "distributing cash" to woo voters. Banerjee's last public meeting on Tuesday was at Tangua. After addressing the gathering for around 45 minutes, Banerjee said they all must sing the national anthem as it was the last meeting of her campaign in Nandigram.

Despite senior party leaders including Subrata Bakshi, Purnendu Basu and Dola Sen telling her that she may get hurt again in her leg that is still in a cast, she stood up with the help of her personal security guard and TMCP leader Jaya Dutta saying that she can manage as at no cost she can disrespect the national anthem.

It needs a mention that she had received severe injuries on her left ankle when attacked at Nandigram just a few hours after filing her nomination on March 10. But she resumed her poll campaign within 72 hours in a wheelchair. "I strongly feel that it was a pre-planned conspiracy to injure me so that I cannot campaign for my party's candidates. People of Nandigram are not involved in it. They are very innocent and why should they attack me as they have immense love and respect for me. It is the handiwork of the 'gaddars' by engaging goons who were brought in from outside," she remarked.

Banerjee held roadshows and public meetings in Nandigram II block on Monday while she was in Nandigram I block the entire day on Tuesday. Shah's roadshow was in Nandigram I block while Chakraborty's rally was at Tangua.

Out of courtesy, the Trinamool Congress shifted its meeting to a playground at Tangua though it was scheduled to be held at Tangua Crossing as BJP had also fixed one of its meetings near the same venue.

The situation at Tangua Crossing turned tense when Trinamool Congress workers, heading to attend Banerjee's rally, were stopped due to another political meeting. Following Banerjee's direction, TMC leaders managed the situation without allowing it to aggravate.

Some BJP workers shouted slogans when Banerjee was coming out of the house at Reyapara where she has been staying since Sunday.

"But I did not pay any heed to all these considering it to be insignificant. So I would also request you all to maintain cool as the outsiders will be here for only two more days. But we have to maintain our tradition and culture of peace and harmony," she said.

After the poll campaign, Banerjee rushed to the house of her party's booth president at Balarampur Rabin Manna to meet his family members as he was beaten up allegedly by BJP-backed goons two days ago. Manna is currently in a coma and undergoing treatment at SSKM Hospital's trauma care centre. She assured all support to Manna's parents and wife. Incidentally, a few BJP workers had also then entered the place and started shouting slogans. But the Trinamool Congress chairperson paid no heed to their instigation.

The campaign for 29 other seats in Bankura, South 24-Parganas, East and West Midnapore also ended on Tuesday. For the party's candidate, Shah also campaigned at Debra and Panskura Paschim.

Singer Kabir Suman and Nachiketa also campaigned for Banerjee at different places in Nandigram.

Security in Nandigram has been beefed up with the Central force jawans along with the police being posted in almost all the political rallies.

In the second phase, there will be a total deployment of 636 companies of the Central forces, including 22 in Nandigram where more than 2.57 lakh electorates will cast their votes at 278 polling stations.

Banerjee left the dais at Tangua after showing the victory sign and urged people to cast their votes in favour of TMC by pressing button number two.

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