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CM builds case for talks, Mamata roars
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Calcutta/Nandigram, April 25: Minutes before Mamata Banerjee was to address a rally in Nandigram, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said in Calcutta “we need support from all political parties to normalise the situation there”.

“I’ve asked the administration to involve the Opposition in the process. I appeal to the Opposition to attend the next all-party meeting,” the chief minister said.

As if on cue, the Trinamul Congress chief set the terms for the talks: first punish the policemen responsible for the March 14 bloodbath and ensure peace in the CPM-dominated areas.

“Those guilty of murdering innocent people on March 14 haven’t been punished. In such a situation, we cannot participate in talks with the government. If law and order is restored and the culprits punished, we can enter into a dialogue with the administration,’’ Mamata told the rally at Garchakraberia, about 160 km from Calcutta.

“Bombs are being hurled by CPM cadres. The government hasn’t been able to restore normality in these (CPM-dominated) areas.”

Bhattacharjee had told a rally in neighbouring Haldia yesterday that the East Midnapore administration would convene another all-party meeting as Trinamul had boycotted the last one.

He admitted today that the administration had failed to restore normality in Nandigram and its neighbouring areas. “Primary schools and colleges are closed for months. The administration cannot repair roads. Lakhs (of rupees) meant for development are lying unspent as panchayat and block development offices are not being able to function normally. Ultimately, it’s the common man who is suffering,” Bhattacharjee said.

Mamata Banerjee at the rally. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)

Farmers and fishermen are not being able to market their produce. “Around 2,500 people owing allegiance to the CPM have been driven away from their homes since January. How long will they stay outside' They have the right to return home,” he said.

Even last night, some houses were ransacked.

Mamata blamed the CPM for the continuing trouble and rebuffed the chief minister’s appeal for co-operation.

“Our chief minister could neither give exemplary pun- ishment to the killers in more than 40 days nor enter Nandigram. There is no information on what the investigations have revealed,” she said.

She also lashed out at the chief minister for sharing the dais with CPM strongman and Haldia Development Authority chairman Lakshman Seth.

Seth, she said, wanted to flush out those opposed to the CPM’s “land-grabbing policy’’ from Nandigram.

“This led to the police firing on March 14.”

A Trinamul rally to be held in Calcutta on May 21 will now be held in Nandigram because Mamata wants to “expose the CPM’s sinister design”.

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