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Karat clears industry air

Calcutta, March 23: Some CPM leaders may be wary of Nandigram’s impact on potential investors, but party chief Prakash Karat has said the Left Front government “would not give up its industrialisation policy”.

Karat’s comments are being viewed as a sign of support for chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is likely to face some unpleasant questions on the Nandigram firing and its political fallout at tomorrow’s CPM state committee meeting.

Former chief minister Jyoti Basu, too, voiced support for his successor, saying speculation about Bhattacharjee’s “desire to step down” was “absurd”.

CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar indicated that a “post-mortem of the Nandigram firing” would be conducted at the meeting.

In an article to be published tomorrow in CPM mouthpiece People’s Democracy, Karat wrote: “As for those who want the Left Front government to give up its industrialisation policy, they would be disappointed.’’

He added: “Naxalites of various hues and persons like Medha Patkar are hoping that industrialisation in Bengal can be halted after the violence in Nandigram. Both are on the wrong track.”

CPM insiders said the focus of tomorrow’s meeting would be fixing responsibility for the “wrong information about the farmers’ resistance”.

While Haldia Development Authority chairman Lakshman Seth is likely to draw flak for triggering the protests and misleading the party on the agitators’ strength, the heat will also be on the state government for the police action.

In his article, Karat stressed that “the CPM would not be daunted” by the ganging up of various forces ranging from “the BJP to the Maoists”.

He, however, made it clear that “no new SEZ will be set up in Bengal till changes in the all-India SEZ act and rules are made”.

Karat’s comments come at a time a section of the party feels that industrialisation would take a backseat in Bengal.

Konar, too, tried to allay fears about investments getting derailed. “Post-Nandigram, there is some adverse reaction among the investors. Let us see how much we will be able to clear the air. It’s good that none of the major investors has backed out so far,’’ he said.

Conceding that the “death of ordinary people in the police firing incurred the disapproval” of people in the state and the rest of the country, Karat blamed the Opposition for “playing up people’s fears” about land acquisition.

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