Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Jyoti Basu on Wednesday said he had advised West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to postpone his decision to seek central forces in trouble-torn Nandigram.
He also expressed his party's willingness to hold talks with opposition leader Mamata Banerjee whose Trinamul Congress is fighting the CPI-M in Nandigram.
"I have told the chief minister to postpone deployment of central forces in Nandigram. Instead, we have asked him to arrange an all-party meeting to restore peace in troubled areas," Basu said after emerging from a meeting of the ruling Left Front.
"CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) is already there in north Bengal to tackle KLO militants. There is no need for more central forces," he said.
Basu had earlier supported the state government's decision to seek deployment of central forces to restore normalcy in Nandigram.
Condemning the recent spurt in violence in Nandigram in East Midnapore, about 150 kms from Kolkata, the former chief minister said he had never seen an agitation where movement of police was being blocked by digging up roads and blowing up bridges.
"Trinamul has said they will not allow anyone to live there except their own supporters. Has anybody heard of such an agitation? We cannot accept such an agitation even if 100 people are killed," he said.
"What are police doing there? An agitation had taken place in Midnapore during my time, but I had dealt with it sternly," he said.
Basu said he was ready to hold talks with Banerjee to restore peace in Nandigram.
"If required, I am willing to talk to Mamata. I have no enmity with her. She came to my house on my birthday and wished me," he said.
Meanwhile, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said no decision has been taken on deployment of central forces in Nandigram.
"The Left Front has not taken any decision on deployment of central forces. The final decision will be taken by the state government," he said, but added all parties should unite to restore peace in the troubled area.
"We urge all parties to unite to restore peace in the troubled area. An all-party meeting can take place at the local level and then at the state level. We want peace through a negotiated settlement," Bose said.
He described as "not based on proper facts" Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy's statement on Tuesday, that firing had started from Khejuri that is controlled by the CPI-M.
"What the home secretary has said is not based on proper facts. Injured Eastern Frontier's Rifles jawan Pradip Tawan has said he was wounded in the crossfire. The firing hadn't started from any side," Bose said.
The death toll in Tuesday's violence in Nandigram touched four officially as thousands fled their homes to escape an offensive by CPI-M activists from Khejuri to regain control of their lost ground.
The home secretary on Wednesday admitted that about 2,000 supporters of the Trinamul-backed Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) were displaced in the fresh violence while many CPI-M men could return to their homes in Nandigram as the party regained some lost ground.
The toll in Nandigram violence stands at 32 since January when the region flared up over the proposed land acquisition for a special economic zone (SEZ), including a chemical hub, a plan scrapped by the state government in the face of stiff resistance.
But a turf war continued in the area in the run-up to the local body elections in West Bengal May next year.