On a day of the high kidnap drama involving loco pilots of the Delhi-Bhubaneshwar special Rajdhani, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged a nexus between the “CPM goons and the Maoists” and met Home Minister P Chidambaram to demand the imposition of President’s Rule in West Bengal.
By evening, when a group called the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) accepted responsibility for holding the loco pilots hostage, Banerjee changed tack and sought to steer clear of political controversy.
“This is not the time for politics”, she said, asked whether the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government was not cooperating with the railways in bringing relief to the stranded passengers. “The safety of passengers is my highest priority. A relief train has been dispatched,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee had sought dismissal of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government in order to “save democracy in West Bengal”. She said that CPM cadres and Maoists were “brothers in arms”.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Chidambaram, Banerjee said the “Centre should utilise the provisions under Article 355 (to protect a state against external aggression and internal disturbance) followed by Article 356 (to impose President's rule) to restore the rule of the law in West Bengal.