NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 9 APRIL: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Finance Minister Amit Mitra were today the target of the ire of the CPI-M and its students’ wing activists with protesters manhandling the minister outside the Planning Commission here. Hours after the incident, a crucial meeting between Miss Banerjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, scheduled in the evening, was cancelled at the last minute, reportedly at the Bengal CM’s behest on “health grounds”.
Miss Banerjee and her ministers, including Mr Mitra, were ambushed by the CPI(M)-SFI activists when they arrived at the Planning Commission complex at around 3.45 p.m. for a meeting with the Commission’s Deputy Chairman, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, for finalising Bengal’s annual plan for 2013-14. The 150-odd activists were protesting the death of an SFI leader, Sudipto Gupta, in police custody in Kolkata last week.
The Bengal CM, who was apparently advised by police not to get down from her car but to drive inside, however, chose to walk through the slogan-shouting and placard-wielding protesters into Yojana Bhawan. While Miss Banerjee was shielded by police, Mr Mitra (65), was left behind and faced the brunt of the agitation. Mr Mitra was jostled and pushed around as he tried to enter Yojana Bhavan. A woman protester allegedly thumped him on his chest and his kurta was torn in the melee.
Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee and urban development minister Firhad Hakim, were also said to have been targeted by the protesters.