The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tripura thorn in Basu response to Sonia

Calcutta, Feb. 11: A day after Sonia Gandhi called for a broad anti-BJP alliance of secular forces, an angry Jyoti Basu ruled out any tie-up with the Congress in the wake of its “secret electoral understanding with the terrorists” in Tripura.

“The Congress’ tie-up with the terrorists in Tripura has jeopardised the coming together of the anti-BJP forces at the national level. Though we consider the BJP our main enemy, we now doubt the possibility of the emergence of a broad-based platform of anti-BJP secular forces,” the CPM politburo member said.

The Congress has entered into an “alliance” with the National Liberation Front of Tripura, a militant outfit, in the run-up to the Assembly elections in that state.

The outfit has “unleashed terror on the CPM workers”, the veteran CPM leader alleged.

Basu regretted that the Congress president did not address the issue even though “I had given a written note to her three months ago about the dangers of aligning with the terrorists”.

The former chief minister said the prospect of the anti-BJP forces coming together “was nipped in the bud in the wake of the party’s gestures vis-à-vis the terrorists in Tripura”.

He, however, felt that co-ordination with the Congress inside the House on certain issues was “the need of the hour”.

Basu stepped up a counter campaign against Sonia’s “CPM-bashing” in the speech at Brigade Parade Grounds yesterday.

“Sonia’s tirade against the communists may rejuvenate the limping Congress in Bengal but it exposed the party’s growing isolation from the masses. I want Sonia to go for a soul-searching mission before criticising us.”

Basu dismissed Sonia’s allegation that he was instrumental in bringing the BJP to the Centre by backing then Prime Minister V.P. Singh.

“Sonia blamed me without knowing the facts. I shared a platform with then Jan Sangh leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Sahid Minar in 1989. But it was a rally to celebrate V.P. Singh’s victory. I was present there at Singh’s request,” he said.

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