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Subhas rips open red fault lines

The hawks and doves are at each other's throat again, write Aloke Banerjee and Arindam Sarkar.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 13:19 IST

Is Subhas Chakraborty opening old wounds?

Looks like the hawks and doves are at each other's throat again over the FIR slapped on the transport minister by the poll panel for alleged "intimidation".

Newly-appointed state party secretary Biman Bose supported his comrade, while chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee held his Cabinet colleague guilty.

The chief minister's comment on a television channel on Wednesday that it was wrong on the transport minister's part to have hit out at the officials and police on election duty has left the CPI-M fuming.

"Subhas Chakraborty made a mistake. Even he feels so. We have written to the Election Commission accepting the mistake," the chief minister reportedly said in a televised interview.

Top party sources on Thursday said the commission's rigid stand, its decision to hold five-phase polls in the state and particularly the raid on the Keshpur zonal committee office late on Tuesday night have forced the party on attack mode.

"The party is behind Chakraborty. He merely expressed the mood of the cadre," a state secretariat member of the CPI-M said.

But he admitted that the transport minister could have been a wee bit more discreet while criticising the commission.

The senior CPI-M leader said Chakraborty had made the comment against officials involved in poll duty at a meeting early last month. Even former party secretary (late) Anil Biswas, who attended the meeting, did not find anything amiss.

The party high command has also made its stand clear. Alleging that the FIR was "illegal", general secretary Prakash Karat complained to the Election Commission that the minister had not been given time to explain.

All the sound and fury have had its impact on the commission as well. It has ordered an inquiry into allegations by CPI(M) about the observer's role.

Deputy Election Commissioners Anand Kumar and R Balakrishnan have been as signed to probe the Keshpur raids and submit a report. The raids apparently have shifted the scene of action temporarily from Kolkata.

It's all in Midnapore now. On Thursday morning, the district collectorate and the zilla parishad office in this non-descript town turned into a virtual war zone.

And the general was deputy chief election commissioner R Balakrishnan, flanked by colleague Ananth Kumar.

The agenda was the final review of the administrative preparedness in the district, Bankura and Purulia which go to the hustings on April 17.

The meeting with Balakrishnan was attended by district magistrates of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia and the respective police chiefs.

Simultaneously, in the zilla parishad office, commanders of paramilitary forces confabulated with the bosses in khaki on the frontline set-up.

Lest the Maosits — the area is a militancy hotbed — attack or the parties choose to fight it out on the streets instead of booths.