Birati, Jan. 24: Jyotipriya Mullick, the official food minister and the unofficial principal of Trinamul's finishing school, wants his party supporters to treat CPM loyalists like a "cobra".
"What will you do if a keute or a gokhro (cobra) enters your house? You all know what to do with such poisonous snakes. Treat the CPM like a snake. Don't allow the CPM to come near you," Mullick said at a Trinamul rally in North 24-Parganas' Birati last night.
Mullick, who achieved "fame" after calling for a social boycott of the CPM, did not specify the treatment he had in mind, leaving it to the judgement of his audience at the Trinamul meeting by saying "you all know what to do with such poisonous snakes".
But the law of the land expects minister Mullick and lesser citizens to help save the cobra, which falls in the threatened category (see chart). If the ecological reason tugs at the heart of Trinamul, the party that carries the environment-friendly symbol of flowers and leaves, CPM cadres can breathe a little easy.
However, if the Trinamul supporters take to heart what most people usually do when they see a poisonous snake, the CPM cadres are in for some venomous treatment.
At a party convention last year, Mullick had asked Trinamul workers not to talk to CPM activists at social gatherings and had advised them against sipping tea with them.
Asked about his comments last night, the food minister told The Telegraph today: "The CPM killed many of our party activists during its 34-year rule. They tortured our men brutally over the years. So what are they if not poisonous snakes?"
"The panchayat elections are nearing. So people should be told what the CPM is like," he added.
Taking a dig at former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Mullick said at the Trinamul gathering that "Brand Buddha" had become "banned Buddha" after the CPM leader's loss in the 2011 Assembly elections.
Asked about Mullick's remarks, industries minister and Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee advised restraint. "Nobody should make insensitive comments. Everybody should exercise restraint," Chatterjee said.