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CPI(M) warms up to talks with Mamata

CPI(M) on Monday allowed its Left Front allies to talk to Opposition leaders and if necessary even with Mamata Banerjee to restore peace in Nandigram, reports Aloke Banerjee.

kolkata Updated: May 07, 2007 20:43 IST

In a clear softening of stance, the CPI(M) on Monday allowed its Left Front allies – the CPI, RSP and the Forward Bloc – to talk to Opposition leaders and if necessary even with Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee to restore peace in violence - devastated Nandigram.

RSP leader and PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami at Writers' Building said that feelers have already been sent to Trinamool Congress chief and if possible he would contact her late in the night. Later, Goswami said that he contacted Trinamool Bhawan and he was told that someone responsible from the party would get in touch. Mamata, however, refused to comment.

Facing sharp criticism from the allies at the Front meeting during the day for mishandling the Nandigram situation, the CPI(M), including patriarch Jyoti Basu, also admitted that armed party activists were launching attacks from across the Khejuri border.

PWD Minister Kshiti Goswami observed during the meeting that the CPI(M) was unilaterally handling the Nandigram issue and had miserably failed to bring back peace there. "You have bungled entirely. If you don't involve us in the peace process the situation will never return to normal," Goswami said as leaders of the CPI and the RSP supported him.

"In order to restore normalcy, any Front partner can initiate dialogue with any leader of the Opposition," Front Chairman Biman Bose said after the meeting when asked whether dialogue could be held even with arch rival Mamata Banerjee. "It is of utmost importance to create a situation so that the evicted people of both the warring groups can return to their homes," he said.

"I am reading in the newspapers that even our men are creating trouble from across the Khejuri border.Why can't they be restrained?" Jyoti Basu asked as the Front allies of the CPI(M) criticised the government alleging that police were not putting up a strong vigil in the Khejuri-Nandigram border from where CPI(M) activists were launching attacks on Bhumi Uchhed Protirodh Committee supporters.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was present in the meeting, admitted involvement of CPI(M) activists in the violence and said that he had already sent out stern notice to them that the administration will not allow such acts. "Bombs are being hurled at nights. But I have told them that this will not be tolerated," Bhattacharjee said.

The crucial discussion on whether to allow Reliance to enter into the agri-retail business in the state, however, did not take place as Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh could not attend the meeting because of ill health. The Bloc controls the agricultural marketing department of the state government. The issue will be discussed on May 16, it was decided.

In a letter to the Front chairman, Ghosh, however, criticised the chief minister for refusing to allow governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi to broker peace in Nandigram. "The state Left Front and the government have taken no initiative to restore normalcy. Had the chief minister urged the governor to broker peace, the situation could have improved by now, Ghosh said in his letter. He also criticised Biman Bose for publicly threatening to quit as the Front chairman."

First Published: May 07, 2007 16:08 IST