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'I'm ready to mediate with Maoists'

kolkata Updated: Mar 12, 2010 12:09 IST
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Kabir Suman, the Trinamool Congress MP who is not always known to toe the party line and a hugely popular poet-singer in West Bengal, says he is willing to mediate between the central government and Maoists.

Elected from the Jadavpur constituency last year, Suman believes tribals have "a very strong reason" to raise their voice against the ongoing state offensive against rebels.

"I am absolutely ready to mediate the process of dialogue if both the parties come forward and talk it out. I have no moral scruples being middleman between the Maoists and the centre," Suman, 60, told IANS in an interview.

Criticising the government's decision to carry out Operation Green Hunt against Maoists, he said a section of people was trying to eradicate the backward tribal population from their own land with muscle power.

"The entire ball is now in the government's court. If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram want to talk to the Maoists to resolve the issue, I think the matter can be sorted out," said Suman.

Earlier, top Maoist leader Kishenji had said his men would shun violence if the union government welcomed intellectuals to facilitate the process and specifically named Arundhati Roy, former IAS officer B.D. Sharma and Kabir Suman.

"I don't know who this Kishenji is. I have never met him in my life. But I do believe that these tribals have a very strong reason to raise their voice against the ongoing state operations," said Suman, who changed the face of modern Bengali music in the 1990s with the "jeebonmukhi" genre, writing and singing about people and their lives.

The former broadcast journalist once extensively covered Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution and is known to be close to leftist radicals.

Suman told IANS: "I don't think the union government wants any bilateral talks with the Maoists. They have launched the security forces' operation in the tribal-dominated pockets of West Bengal and are torturing the local population there."

On several occasions, he has been critical of his own party Trinamool not taking a softer line on Maoists.

The Trinamool Congress is the second largest party in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition at the centre, with 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

Suman, who was a Hindu and converted to Islam several years ago, was once close to the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist.

He later participated in the Trinamool's Nandigram and Singur movements against land acquisition for industry. He stood for elections and won as a Trinamool candidate in the April-May polls last year.

The politician, known for albums like "Tomake Chai", "Boshe Anko", "Ichchhe Holo" and "Gaanola", recently went against the wishes of his party, composing an album "Chattrodharer Gaan". It was a tribute to Chhatradhar Mahato, the arrested leader of the People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) that is accused of being hand in glove with Maoists.