Thursday, June 18, 2009

CPM cries for help in Lalgarh

18 Jun 2009, 0408 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Even as home minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday put the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government in West Bengal in the dock for inaction in
Lalgarh, the state’s ruling CPM advertised its dilemma over the issue by putting the onus on the Centre to act against the Maoist rebellion.

CPM’s stand comes at a time when it is facing one of its toughest political tests in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha losses inflicted by the Trinamool-Congress combine. In a bid to avoid another Nandigram-like episode, which many in CPM and the Left Front have identified as one of the prime reasons for CPM’s electoral failure, the party is, at the moment, unwilling to risk police action in the troubled spots in the West Midnapore district. However, for the record CPM-led Left Front in West Bengal also asked the state government to take action in Lalgarh, displaying its difficulties in dealing with the sensitive issue.

“The prime minister has said that Naxalism is one of the biggest threats facing the country. We are waiting for the government and want to see what the Centre will do,” CPM polit bureau member Sitaram Yechury said. He added there should be better co-ordination between the central and the state governments on dealing with the Naxal problem.

Reacting to Mr Chidambaram’s statements that the state was not doing enough, Mr Yechury brought up the role of the paramilitary forces in the post-Nandigram violence situation. “In Nandigram (after the violence), the paramilitary forces acted on their own,” Mr Yechury said talking of their role in patrolling and bringing back law and order to the troubled spots. He indicated the same could be done in Lalgarh’s case as well.

Another polit bureau member Brinda Karat said the party was willing to engage in a dialogue with any group that did not believe in violence. “We are ready to talk to any tribal group which does not believe in violence.” She added the state government was “treading cautiously as Maoists are using innocent tribals as human shields”.

Both Mr Yechury and Ms Karat attacked the opposition Trinamool Congress and Congress. Ms Karat said Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had “not uttered a single word of condemnation over the Lalgarh violence”. Mr Yechury asked why the two parties were silent on the violence while blaming the Trinamool for giving “cover and encouragement to these forces (the Naxals) to operate in Bengal”.

A polit bureau statement had on Tuesday condemned the attacks by Maoists on its party cadres in Lalgarh. Describing it as a “reign of terror” in Lalgarh, the polit bureau statement had said: “CPM members and supporters are being targeted and hounded out of the area and party offices and houses of CPM workers are being destroyed. The Maoists are using poor tribals as human shield to further their goals.” The issue is set to be brought up for discussion at a meeting of the CPM Central Committee and Polit bureau between June 19 and 21.

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