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Act signal to cautious CM

Calcutta, Oct. 5: Jyoti Basu’s comments today reflected the pressure mounting on chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee from within the CPM for action against police officers accused of coercion.

Bhattacharjee’s response indicated he would not like to take a hasty decision and would wait for the high court’s order. The government seems to be taking an administrative, rather than a political, approach.

The way Basu disapproved of commissioner Prasun Mukherjee’s remarks also sent a signal that the party and the government were decided on acting against the police.

Sources said Basu was this morning closeted with Bhattacharjee for a while before the CPM state committee meeting began. Basu apparently got an assurance that action would be take against two officers. “But the veteran leader took this to mean that action had already been taken,’’ a source said.

At the party meeting, in the face of criticism of the police role, Bhattacharjee said he did not want to be rushed. “It’s true the police’s role and the commissioner’s defence of it damaged the government’s image. But I can’t take hasty decisions. We should wait till the high court decides on the petition asking for a CBI probe,’’ a state committee member quoted Bhattacharjee as saying.

Party leaders who spoke to Bhattacharjee said they felt he had initially believed the police version, but changed his mind when evidence suggested otherwise. Bhattacharjee will hold a dialogue on “the present situation in Bengal” with leaders of the minority community on October 11.

Most members of the state secretariat seemed to favour Bhattacharjee’s approach. Benoy Konar, another veteran, sought to dispel the impression that Basu’s words reflected the collective opinion.

“I have no knowledge of any secretariat decision on punishing police officers. If there is any decision, it is administrative. We don’t intervene in the government’s affairs daily,’’ he said.

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