In a significant development, Left Front partners of the CPI(M) on Saturday challenged Front chairman Biman Bose’s damage control skills after the Nandigram massacre and proposed that a “Peace Restoration Committee” be formed under the chairmanship of veteran Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh. The Committee would make better efforts to restore normalcy in Nandigram, the allies said.
The idea, first floated by RSP leader and state PWD minister Kshiti Goswami during the Left Front meeting, received support from all other Front constituents barring the CPI(M), which finally succeeded in keeping the suggestion in abeyance till it was discussed among the Front allies at the district level.
“Though you are the Front chairman, you are also the state secretary of the CPI(M). The affected people of Nandigram do not like to even meet you because you are a CPI(M) leader and making partisan statements. In such a situation, how can you start peace initiatives?” Goswami asked.
“I would have proposed Jyoti Basu’s name to head the Peace Restoration Committee. Since he is not keeping well, I propose that the second most senior leader Ashok Ghosh should lead the committee,” the RSP leader said. While all other Front partners supported the idea, CPI(M)’s Madan Ghosh opposed it vehemently.
An angry Front chairman Biman Bose alleged that the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc were trying to form a “mini-Front within the Left Front. “A mini-Front is being set up. It seems yours sympathies are only for those who were killed or injured in police firing. There is no sympathy for our cadres who can’t return to their homes in Nandigram for over three months now,” an agitated Bose said.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was present, however, candidly admitted that CPI(M) cadres were indeed involved in the clashes that were continuing unabated in the Nandigram-Khejuri border.
“Clashes are continuing. Our party cadres are also involved. We are trying to restore normalcy in Nandigram. But the Opposition is not attending all-party meetings,” he said.
The chief minister also admitted that the Left Front’s image among intellectuals was severely tarnished following the police firing. “Our image has taken a beating. I have taken personal initiative to restore it. I am admitting to them that we committed some grave mistakes,” he said candidly.
The worried chief minister said his government’s failure to restore normalcy in Nandigram was halting disbursement of compensation for the victims. “Several bodies have not been claimed yet. We have no access in the area. I can’t even send relief and give compensation,” he said.
After the meeting, the Left Front issued a formal appeal to the Opposition parties to participate in peace meetings being called by the administration in order to restore normalcy in Nandigram.