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CPI (M) bows under pressure from allies

CPI(M) on Monday gave up its demand of first holding a district level peace meeting and agreed to be present in a state level all-party peace meet on Nandigram, reports Aloke Banerjee.
None | By Aloke Banerjee, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAY 14, 2007 04:47 PM IST

Bowing under pressure from the "mini-Front" of its allies, the CPI(M) on Monday gave up its demand of first holding a district level peace meeting and agreed to be present in a state level all-party peace meet on Nandigram.

The CPI(M) also accepted the leadership of Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh in the peace process, who would decide the venue and date of the crucial meet after talking to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, other Opposition leaders and Left Front chairman Biman Bose.

If this was a decisive step ahead in restoring peace in violence-torn Nandigram, it was also an unprecedented development in 30 years of Left-ruled Bengal for the CPI(M) as it had to gulp its pride and tail its smaller allies – the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc – in their peace initiative, the Front partners said after the meeting.

At the emergency Front meeting, held to resolve the battle of one upmanship within the Front, the CPI(M) succumbed to the idea that either there was to be a state-level peace meeting or none at all because Mamata Banerjee, a key player in the Nandigram imbroglio, was opposed to any district-level meet.

Ignoring his party's official stand, expressed in the latest Party Letter that some key allies were trying to form a "mini-Front within the Left Front", Biman Bose endorsed the idea that Front constituents had the right to sit together and seek a solution to the Nandigram crisis. "I don't think any such thing called mini-Front exists. It is the creation of the media. If three allies sit together, they don't necessarily do so to form a mini-Front," Bose said after the Left Front meeting.

Inside the Front meeting, the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc cornered the CPI(M) for making subtle public charges that the three allies were trying to form a pressure group within the Front on the issue of Nandigram.

"True, our three parties met together several times. But we have kept the chief minister informed of each of our moves," Manju Majumdar of the CPI and Kshiti Goswami of the RSP said as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee agreed.

Even an apologetic Biman Bose said that he should not have made caustic comments on the efforts of the three allies. When CPI(M) central committee member Benoy Konar, known for making acerbic comments against the allies, wanted to speak, Biman said, "You can talk but only on a positive note."

Cautious not to make any controversial statement that could derail the peace process, Biman parried questions when asked whether his party was ready to discuss in the all-party meeting whether the government had committed genocide in Nandigram. "You can write whatever you want to. But I will not make even a single comment," he said before walking off the press conference.

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