The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM lid on land row

Calcutta, Aug. 21: The CPM state leadership today put the lid on the controversy over land use by getting the 15-member state committee to discuss Maoist activities and other separatist movements in Bengal on the eve of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's visit to Indonesia and Singapore.

'Let the chief minister finish his trip to Indonesia and finalise the planned deal (with Salim). We will have enough time to discuss the land issue later,' state CPM secretary Anil Biswas reportedly told the party leaders.

From Bhattacharjee to former chief minister Jyoti Basu, Biswas to Left Front chairman Biman Bose ' all CPM politburo members ' the leaders dwelt at length on Maoist activities and the challenge these posed, the separatist movement in North Bengal and Subash Ghisingh's politics in Darjeeling hills.

In the process, they blocked any attempt to raise the contentious issue of allotment of agricultural land for industry, sparked by the proposed allotment of land for the Indonesia-based Salim group's project.

'The Maoist activities are on the rise in a few Bengal districts. A few of our leaders and workers lost their lives in the Maoists' armed attacks. We fear they will try to create disturbances before next year's Assembly election in Bengal and a few Opposition parties may encourage them to target the CPM,' said Biswas.

After running into some resistance from a section of CPM leaders led by land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla, who opposed the allotment of multi-crop lands for setting up large industries, the chief minister achieved victory when he got the CPM leadership to put a stamp of approval on his programme.

On Friday, the state leadership issued a statement at the end of a meeting with party leaders of South 24-Parganas endorsing Bhattacharjee's line and urging the government to try to avoid acquiring multi-crop lands and heavily populated areas for projects.

'There could not be any discussion on land. The leadership was particularly careful about not sending out any discordant signal,' said a member on the condition of anonymity.

The leadership also managed to finalise a five-point action plan to counter the Maoists' activists in certain parts of Bengal. Biswas, Basu and Bhattacharjee urged the committee members to focus their energies on combating the Maoists.

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