The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Basu curtains on crackdown drama

Calcutta, June 24: His point regarding the need for a wider probe into the police crackdown in Salt Lake made, Jyoti Basu today moved to put the lid on the controversy stemming from it.

'The Salt Lake episode is a closed chapter. As far as we (in the party) are concerned, there is no point entering into any further discussions on it,' Basu told reporters at Alimuddin Street minutes after a CPM secretariat meeting.

Basu's latest position on the crackdown, in which his close aide Joykrishna Ghosh and party MP Amitava Nandi suffered baton blows, followed chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's visit to his Salt Lake home last evening and his explanation for the action.

On June 19, Basu left the government red-faced after he publicly blasted it for the lathi-charge on Ghosh and Nandi in front of a booth in ward 12 of Bidhannagar municipality. He also resented the manner in which a large police contingent was deployed on the eve of the elections to 'curb (the) constitutional right' of residents to move about freely.

The issue figured at today's meeting of the core decision-making body in which state party secretary Anil Biswas briefed its key members on the findings of his probe into the incident. Biswas had been asked to inquire into the incident independently after Basu discussed it with the chief minister last night.

The CPM patriarch was also shown a copy of the government's report on the police action. 'Though Buddha has probed the matter administratively, we wanted a further probe by a partyman. After discussing all aspects at today's meeting, we agreed to put an end to the episode,' Basu told The Telegraph.

Insiders said Basu wanted to bury the controversy as he realised it would tarnish the party's image and give the Opposition an opportunity to mount a campaign against the Left Front even after the 'spectacular victory in the Calcutta and Salt Lake polls'.

That the CPM was deter- mined to wash its hands of it was evident from the manner in which Biswas reduced it to a 'non-significant' issue.

'The party has probed the incident. There are some points on which sufficient information is lacking. We consider it a trivial affair and have decided to put an end to all controversy. The Opposition parties are already trying to blow it up,' Biswas said.

He admitted that he did not have enough information to corroborate the police action against Basu's confidential assistant and the MP. 'Something may have happened on the polling day, but there are some missing links. We want to let the issue die,' he said.

Trinamul Congress and Congress leaders demanded that the government's report on the police assault be made public. 'Why should it be shown to Basu' asked an Opposition leader.

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