Mamata’s ‘Maoist’ farmer on BJP stage

Friday
Party says Shiladitya keen to join, but will have to wait

Three months after he was jailed for asking uncomfortable questions to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a public rally in Belpahari, for which he was also branded as Maoist by the CM, Shiladitya Chowdhury on Friday took everyone by surprise by appearing on the stage of a BJP rally in Kolkata.

The 31-year-old farmer from Binpur was paraded by the Bengal unit of the BJP, which held a rally on the occasion of its "Uthan Dibas" (raising day). State BJP president Rahul Sinha, who introduced Shiladitya to the crowd, said the farmer, who was once a staunch Trinamool Congress supporter, now wants to join the BJP.

"I visited Shalgram in Binpur 25 days ago where Shiladitya lives. When I met him, he expressed his interest in joining the BJP after looking at our policies. He has not been inducted in the party as yet. We will observe his work and loyalty towards the party and then he might be inducted as a member of the BJP," said Sinha.

At a rally in Belpahari in August, Shiladitya had asked the CM about the rising prices of fertliliser. An angry Mamata immediately branded him a "Maoist". Following which he was detained and taken for interrogation by the police. He was, however, let off that day but was arrested two days later and booked for "disrupting a public rally, entering a high-security zone and assaulting police personnel."

However, police could not establish that he was either a "Maoist" as alleged by the Chief Minister or that he had assaulted any policeman. The court then granted him bail on a personal bond of Rs 1,000.

Only, yesterday chairman of Press Council of India, Markandey Katju, in an e-mail to the CM mentioned that Shiladitya should be freed of all the charges and the CM should apologise.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj skipped the party rally.

"Looking at the gathering and overwhelming response, it is evident that the party is getting a never before support from the people, who have lost faith in the present government," Sinha said.

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