April 28: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today blamed the RSP for the yawning fissures in the Left Front even as predecessor Jyoti Basu sought to settle the issue with the disgruntled partner in an effort to keep the front from falling apart.
Wrapping up his two-day campaign trip to North Dinajpur and Malda, Bhattacharjee told reporters at the Malda circuit house that the RSP refused to accept the alliance formula devised by the front for the May 11 poll to the three-tier rural bodies.
He said the front had decided that whoever won or came second in the last panchayat election would contest the same seats this time, too. “But some did not accept this formula.”
Bhattacharjee said the CPM went out of the way to accommodate the RSP but the ally made “unreasonable” demands.
“Just to give you an example, the RSP did not have a single seat in the Malda zilla parishad. Even so, we offered the party one of our seats. But the RSP demanded 12 or 13. As a result, the alliance could not take place,” the chief minister said.
However, he added that the CPM would meet the RSP at a meeting in Calcutta on Wednesday to try and resolve differences.
In a panchayat rally at Chopra earlier, Bhattacharjee asked people not to vote against the front. “Don’t make this mistake. The front is intact and we are ruling the state together.”
The RSP stayed away from what was billed as a “Left Front” rally. Malda district CPM secretary Jibon Moitra said the RSP was not invited as “it is not part of front” in the district.
The relations between the allies nose-dived when jail minister Biswanath Chowdhury, a senior RSP leader from South Dinajpur, accused the CPM of disrupting his rally in Hili on Friday. The RSP has already threatened to pull out of the front in protest.
But Basu appears to have taken it upon himself to broker peace and keep the front intact. “I have asked Anil (Biswas) to inform the RSP leadership about the proposed meeting. I will be happy if the Left parties get more united in the coming days,” he said tonight.
The Marxist veteran said he would see to it that those involved in Friday’s incident were brought to book. “I don’t know whether our partymen are involved. But those found guilty will not go unpunished.”
Besides Basu and Bhattacharjee, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas and front chairman Biman Bose will attend the meeting with the RSP state leadership.
The CPM and the RSP are fighting each other in about 4,500 panchayat seats in the state.
Basu is learnt to have communicated his displeasure over the Hili incident to Bhattacharjee, Biswas and Bose. He has reportedly asked them to sort out the differences with the RSP.
The mood was upbeat at the RSP office in Calcutta this morning, where senior party leaders discussed the Hili incident at an ‘emergency’ meeting. “A majority of those present insisted on rethinking the party’s relations vis-à-vis the CPM. But everything changed when we got a call from Anil Biswas informing us about Basu’s willingness to discuss the matter on Wednesday. Things seem to have calmed down after we heard about Basu’s intention,” said state RSP secretary and former irrigation minister Debabrata Bandopadhyay.
“But CPM activists have forced eight of our candidates to withdraw their nominations in Murshidabad and Nadia. Our leader Jayanta Biswas called me from Birbhum this morning,” Bandopadhyay alleged.
At least 12 people were injured when CPM supporters clashed with Forward Bloc workers at Haribalahat in the Dinhata subdivision of Cooch Behar tonight.
The superintendent of police said a contingent led by the Mathabhanga subdivisional police officer has rushed to the spot.