Describing violence in Nandigram as a "turning point" in the history of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Leader of Opposition LK Advani on Wednesday called for invoking Article 355 of the Constitution in West Bengal.
Participating in a discussion in the Lok Sabha on Nandigram after a two-day standoff that led to the paralysis of both houses of Parliament, Advani called for even dismissal of the state government if it failed to act on the central government's warnings.
He demanded a full report on the situation in Nandigram and called on the central government to send an all-party delegation to the area that has been repeatedly rocked by violence this year.
"Just as Nikita Khrushchev was the turning point in Russian communism and Czech communist party head Alexander Dubchek was the turning point when Russian troops occupied Czechoslovakia, Nandigram is going to be a turning point in the history of the CPI-M," declared the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.
The winter session of Parliament finally got underway after two days of bitter acrimony with a determined opposition disrupting the proceedings in both houses, demanding the suspension of all other business for a debate on the arson and killings in the troubled region of CPI-M-ruled West Bengal.
Kicking off the discussion under Rule 193, which does not involve voting, Advani asked the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to warn the state government under Article 355 and to invoke Article 356 and dismiss the Left Front government if it still failed to heed to its warnings.
Article 355 enjoins on the union government to secure every state of the union from external or internal dangers and ensure governance in conformity with the Constitution.
In his hour-long speech, interspersed by sporadic digressions and frequent interruptions by the members of the Left Front, Advani referred to the public statements of West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and remarks of the Calcutta High Court to buttress his argument that immediate action was imperative.
Advani also quoted the deputy inspector general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which was called in to secure Nandigram from anti-social elements, that stringent action was necessary.
"The high court says that the action of the police was wholly unconstitutional, the governor says violence was unlawful, and the CRPF says there is no cooperation from the state government. Is this not a grave situation?" he queried.
Last week, the high court rejected all arguments of the West Bengal government and held that the action of the police on March 14 was wholly unconstitutional, criticising the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government eight months after 14 people were killed and 162 injured in Nandigram. The court also ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the incident.
Nandigram, a cluster of villages about 150 kms from Kolkata, flared up in January as villagers protested the state government's land acquisition plans for industry. Though the plan was cancelled, the zone continued to witness periodic political clashes.