Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is once again standing in the line of friendly fire from the allies of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
The arrest of the four “Maoist sympathisers” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) over past 48 hours in Bengal and fear of its fallout seem to have irked the allies.
Ideologically opposed to the ban Union Home Minister P Chidambaram imposed on the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on 22 June, Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Communist Party of India leaders in Bengal are peeved at the indiscriminate use UAPA by the police.
“The Left Front met shortly after CPI(Maoist) spokesperson Gaur Chakraborty was arrested (on June 23) and we decided not to implement the Central Act. Since Gaur had already been arrested under the Act the Left partners decided that if the government wanted to arrest someone else then the chief minister would take the decision before the core committee,” said Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh, 84.
“That decision still stands. We have informed the CPI(M) leadership that the issue needs to be addressed at a meeting of the Left Front leadership,” Ghosh continued.
RSP leader and member of the Bengal Cabinet core committee, Kshiti Goswami, 65, felt Bhattacharjee was pursuing a hidden agenda.
“Bhattacharjee had assured us that UAPA would not be enforced without discussion among Front partners. That assurance has been proved to be false. The recent arrests were part of a hidden agenda,” Goswami told HT.
Bengal CPI state secretary Manju Majumdar but demanded a coalition meeting nonetheless.
“The CPI state secretariat meeting will take it up on Thursday. We do not favour draconian laws and want Maoists to lay down their arms,” remarked Majumdar.
Looking back at the chain of events in June, Left Front leaders now feel that it was not surprising that Bhattacharjee contemplated banning the Maoists then itself.
“We have to give it (the ban) a serious thought,” Buddha told the media in Delhi on June 20 shortly after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram.