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Attack on Pranab `unfortunate, but no surprise'

Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday described as ``unfortunate'' the roughing up of Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee by Congress supporters here on Sunday. ``This is the culture of the Congress and happens only in that party.''

The incident occurred when Mr. Mukherjee, who is also the Pradesh Congress Committee president, was on his way to the party office to announce the names of candidates for the Kolkata Corporation elections..

Asked whether such behaviour was indicative of the growing popularity of the party as claimed by senior Congress leaders, Mr. Bhattacharjee told newsmen, ``if this is popularity then there is need for a change in the definition of the word.''

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said though the incident was unfortunate it not come as a surprise.

``In an attempt to forge an alliance, the party president [of the State unit] was heckled. If the alliance actually materialises, then the people of the entire State will be heckled even though it [the alliance] will not be formed,'' State secretary Anil Biswas said in New Delhi on Sunday.

Differences stay

Differences among the constituents of the recently-formed, eight-party anti-Left United Democratic Alliance over the choice of candidates that led to the unseemly incident remain unresolved. The Congress is yet to announce its nominees for five wards because of bickering within its own ranks.

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