Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has supported Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s view that the central government should hold peace talks with the Maoists.
He also said the government had no problem with her demand for an inquiry into Maoist leader Azad’s death in what the Maoists have condemned as a fake encounter by the Andhra Pradesh Police.
“In a coalition government, all political parties can have their own opinion. She has her own political identity and can have her own opinion. She has got every right to make a independent statement,” Mukherjee told reporters here on Sunday.
“If Mamata Banerjee thinks that Maoist problem can be solved through dialogue, it does not imply that the Trinamool has any connection with the Maoists,” he added.
Asked if the Railway Minister’s stand on the rebels, particularly on Azad’s death, was at variance with the government’s position, Mukherjee said, “I do not think so. We are aware of her position in respect of Azad’s death. We had a long discussion over the issue. The Prime Minister, home minister and Mamata Banerjee were present. She has explained her position.”
This is the second time that a senior Union minister has publicly defended Banerjee’s views on the Maoists.
In February and April, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said there was no proof of any connection between Maoists and the Trinamool Congress.
The ministers’ defence of the Trinamool came in the wake of repeated allegations by the ruling CPM in Bengal that the UPA constituent was colluding with the Maoists in the eastern state.