The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress shuns Buddha offer

Siliguri, May 3: State Congress president Pranab Mukherjee today ruled out parleys with the ruling CPM to resolve the political “stalemate” after the recent violence at Chopra block in North Dinajpur.

Mukherjee said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s call for a meeting between the two parties to end the violence that has rocked Chopra was an absurd suggestion.

“Who is going to join hands with people who murder the old and the defenceless in cold blood and burn down villages' We reject such an offer outright. It is out of question,” the state Congress chief shot back. It is a CPM conspiracy to wipe out the Opposition, so why meet them, he asked.

Speaking to The Telegraph prior to the departure of a Congress “fact-finding” team to Chopra, Mukherjee blamed the CPM-police nexus of unleashing terror in the run-up to the panchayat polls, barely a week away.

He clubbed the CPM and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi together. “The CPM has unleashed its ‘theory of retaliation’ toeing the Modi line and has orchestrated a conspiracy to stamp out all opposition in the state. It is resorting to mob violence on the same lines as Modi did in Gujarat. The CPM has ensured that the state police machinery is less effective. It is using the police as its own tool to intimidate the Opposition,” he said.

Former PCC chief Somen Mitra, part of the team that visited Chopra, alleged that for 96 hours the local police aided the CPM men in carrying out the bloodshed.

“The CPM party is the administration that rules the state instead of bureaucrats. In Chopra, our legislator Hamidur Rahman was arrested in connection with the killing of local CPM leader Akbar Ali. But when Left Front minister Narayan Biswas was charged with murder, he would come to court in his official car with the red light,” he said.

“CPM goons are on a rampage all over the state. With the law and order situation in Chopra still bad, all our supporters are either in hiding or have left the area. How can they cast their votes if polls are held,” Mitra said.

After touring the affected areas, Congress Lok Sabha chief whip and Raiganj MP Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said his party would appeal to the state election commission for postponing voting in Chopra block.

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