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Basu admits ‘damage’ in delay
- Patriarch ‘confused’ over Rizwan dual probe

Calcutta, Oct. 19: CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu today said what many, including a section of his comrades, had been saying — that the government and the party suffered politically because of the delay in removing the police officers in connection with Rizwanur Rahman’s death.

“Yes, there was a delay, and no doubt it harmed us politically. It became such an issue that the people were concerned and waiting keenly (for the government’s decision). Anyway, the belated decision to remove the officers is correct,” Basu said, virtually admitting that the government had failed to fathom the public rage against the police bid to break Rizwanur and Priyanka Todi’s marriage at the behest of her rich and influential father.

Basu even signalled his disapproval of the government’s decision to continue with the judicial probe, which it had instituted, along with the CBI inquiry ordered by Calcutta High Court. “The chief minister said the advocate-general had assured him that the two investigations could run together. But I have some confusion over it. I don’t know who’s findings would be what. We are yet to know whether somebody had hit the boy or he committed suicide,” the former chief minister said.

Basu’s comment, at the end of the weekly meeting of the party’s state secretariat, will only add to the embarrassment of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who has been accused of indecision and lack of political acumen by the Left Front partners.

Basu said: “It was decided earlier that two (police officers) would be removed first and then it will be the commissioner’s (Prasun Mukherjee) turn. I had briefed you (media) accordingly. But it was not done,’’ he said.

He added that a “decision to act after receiving the report” was taken later, but did not clarify whether he meant the CID report.

Basu’s words last week created the impression that the chief minister would like to wait till the commission submitted its report in three months.

He also quoted Bhattacharjee to reveal the advocate-general’s opinion that any action against the officers will compromise the government’s position in the high court, which was hearing the petition for a CBI probe into Rizwanur’s death.

Bhattacharjee later itera-ted the same legal opinion to the Front partners to defend his delay in removing the officers while insisting that he had taken the “political decision to do so much before”.

There were few takers for this explanation in the front, the party or among the people.

They asked why he did not act before Rizwanur’s family went to court with the demand for a CBI probe or why he did not pull up Mukherjee for de- fending the police interference in the young couple’s marriage.

Basu today tried his best to recover the political ground that the party seemed to have lost because of the government’s initial inaction. “We want the truth to be revealed and wish that the family keeps well. If the CBI wants to exhume the body and conduct a second post-mortem…. We’ll help the CBI in its probe,” he said.

He resented the alleged Trinamul Congress bid to drag Rizwanur’s brother Rukbanur to the electoral fray. “Trinamul is trying to politicise the issue. We are not in this game,’’ Basu said.

Bhattacharjee spent a long time at the state party headquarters on Alimuddin Street after Basu left today.

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