Kolkata: A former CPI-M parliamentarian and a sitting legislator were injured in attacks, while a former party lawmaker was made to hold his ears and promise that he would quit the Marxist fold by assailants allegedly loyal to West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Saturday.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist complained that the ongoing 'jathas' (march programme) brought out by Bengal Platform of Mass Organisations (BPMO) comprising 113 Left organisations across the state came under attack in various districts, grievously injuring many of its leaders and workers.
The Trinamool, on the other hand, accused the opposition of "attempts to spread violence and terror in villages" in the name of political movement.
The march was aimed at intensifying mass contact ahead of next year's assembly polls and in support of a 15-point programme that includes protests against the "growing intolerance" in the country and "attacks on democratic rights" in the state.
Mayureshwar in Birbhum district saw the worst violence as former CPI-M Lok Sabha member Ram Chandra Dome, legislator Ashok Roy and 18 party activists sustained injuries.
Television grabs showed a trembling veteran CPI-M leader and two-time legislator Dhiren Let, purportedly surrounded by miscreants, being made to hold his ears on the orders of some men whose voices were only heard.
He was made to utter "I won't work for the CPI-M" and "I won't take part in the jatha".
The CPI-M alleged that the 'jathas' also came under attack in West Midnapore's Pingla, Jhargram and Manikpara.
The attacks came a day after CPI-M state secretary and Leader of Opposition in the assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra was heckled by people allegedly linked to the ruling Trinamool in his constituency Narayangarh when he was leading a group of marchers.
Blaming the Trinamool for the attacks, Mishra said such attacks will only intensify their movement.
"Trinamool does not have the capability to stop these jathas. They will be blown away like chaffs in the wind. The more the attacks, the more intense would be our movement," he said.
Former CPI-M Lok Sabha member Sujon Chakraborty claimed that at least 20 party activists along with Dome were injured in the attacks.
The Trinamool accused the opposition of "attempts to spread violence and terror in villages" in the name of political movement.
"The agenda of the opposition is to be visible in the media. People have forgotten them. We condemn the opposition's attempts at spreading violence and terror in villages," said the state's Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee.
However, Chatterjee promised to inquire into the incidents at Mayureshwar.
The civil society and opposition parties flayed the Trinamool for perpetrating "violence" on the CPI-M's political programme.
"Nothing can be done in a civil and gentle way in West Bengal. The jathas are coming under repeated attacks. It seems that the ruling party thinks its future is becoming dark. They have nothing to tell the people.
"They are now only resorting to force. The situation is becoming unbearable in West Bengal. The way police have been made inactive, there is need for strong protests," said former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
"Yesterday (Friday), the Leader of Opposition was attacked. I did not see a single statement of condemnation from the ruling party. Today (Saturday), such attacks took place at several places. These incidents indicate a fascist trend," said former Supreme Court judge Asok Ganguly.
State Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury said such attacks will lead to counter-attacks some day.
"The ruling party should know that attacks can never remain one-sided for long. That's the lesson of history."