Kolkata, Jan 9 (IANS) Former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Wednesday took part in a protest march by opposition Left Front here against the attack on veteran CPI-M leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah.
Clad in a 'dhoti' and 'kurta', Bhattacharjee was the star attraction when the march began from the base of a statue of Lenin in city hub Esplanade.
With photographers fervently clicking and electronic mediapersons busy capturing every footage of the Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member, there was a commotion around Bhattacharjee, who is a patient of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Bhattacharjee soon stepped into a car and left the place, but the marchers continued up to Sealdah station -- about three km from the starting point.
Left Front chairman and CPI-M leader Biman Bose and leaders of other front partners participated in the march, which brought main thoroughfares such as Lenin Sarani, Wellington and Moulali crossing to a standstill in the evening.
As the rally went on, more people joined. The number of participants swelled to over 15,000. The length stretched to over 1.5 km.
Carrying posters and banners seeking answers from the Mamata Banerjee-led government about why "Abdur Rezzak Mollah was beaten up", the rallyists raised slogans demanding immediate arrest of Trinamool leader Arabul Islam, accused of having perpetrated the attack on Mollah in Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district Sunday.
Leader of opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra, Revolutionary Socialist Party state secretary Kshiti Goswami, his Communist Party of India counterpart Manju Kumar Majumdar and Forward Bloc leader Hafiz Alam Sairani were at the forefront of the rally that continued for 40 minutes.
Speaking to mediapersons, Bose said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's silence on the issue was "ominous".
"It is ominous for democracy. She has forgotten she is not chief minister of Trinamool Congress, but the entire state. She is my chief minister too," he said.
Trouble flared up in Bhangar since late last week as one party office each of the CPI-M and Trinamool were damaged and set afire respectively.
When CPI-M legislator Mollah went to the area, he was allegedly attacked by Trinamool workers, led by former Trinamool lawmaker Arabul.
Mollah has been admitted to a private hospital with multiple injuries, and the incident has triggered a political uproar.
A number of people were injured Tuesday in firing and stone pelting in clashes in Bamanghata in Bhangar between the workers of the Trinamool Congress and the CPI-M, when the opposition party members were on their way to district headquarters Alipore to join an Left Front demonstration.
The CPI-M blamed Arabul for leading the attack on its supporters, but the Trinamool leader was admitted to a hospital after he claimed he was injured.
South 24 Parganas Superintendent of Police Pravin Tripathy said 57 people were arrested in connection with Tuesday's violence.
The Trinamool Congress also brought out a rally in Bamanghata where senior ministers addressed the audience condemning the conspiracies hatched by the CPI-M and the Congress alongside a section of the media to create lawlessness in the state.