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Before polls, the bloody battle for ‘control’
- Can’t let them into Khejuri: Konar

Calcutta, Oct. 28: Peace is eluding Nandigram because the CPM is desperate to regain its stronghold, and Trinamul and its allies want to hold on to their “liberated” zone with an eye on panchayat polls 2008.

The CPM brass today suggested that the party renewed its attack on Opposition-controlled Nandigram from Khejuri as its was worried of losing ground further before the polls.

“The media get worried about the (Nandigram) violence only when we put up resistance to Trinamul attacks. But we have been on retreat since the trouble began and they have made inroads in 11 village panchayats. It had two initially,” state secretariat member Benoy Konar said.

“If we don’t stop them, they would occupy Khejuri. We can’t allow them to widen their liberated zone anymore.”

The offensive came at a time the government was trying to soften the Opposition by agreeing to pay compensation to the families of those killed during the police action on March 14.

The CPM is ready to strike a “deal”. “The government will not acquire land for industry in Nandigram or proceed with cases against Opposition leaders if they promise peace and ensure the safety of our supporters, who have been driven out of homes,” Konar said.

The CPM leader refused to see any discrepancy between the party’s “resistance” theory and compensation offer. “Either the police should restore law and order or the people will assert their right to resist.”

Another CPM secretariat member, Citu leader Shayamal Chakraborty, also warned the Trinamul chief against “misreading” the compensation offer. “The government and the party offered compensation to ensure peace. But Mamata Banerjee and her allies misread it as our weakness and incited the fresh violence.”

The Trinamul camp blamed the CPM’s Haldia strongman, Tamluk MP Lakshman Seth, for the violence. “He incited CPM supporters to take up arms during a conference in Khejuri on Tuesday. Several police camps were withdrawn from the Nandigram-Khejuri border after that to facilitate the attack,’’ said Egra MLA Sishir Adhikary.

Sishir is Seth’s rival in this battle for political supremacy and sets his terms for peace.

“The security of those living is far more important than compensation for the dead. The CPM must stop attacks from Khejuri. We are determined to foil its efforts to reoccupy Nandigram,” he said.

Local observers say Seth and Sishir are equally ruthless and resourceful.

Sishir has the support of son Subhendu, the Trinamul MLA from Contai (South) who took on Seth in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls from Tamluk.

Seth needs Nandigram to ensure victory the next time. The Adhikarys need Khejuri to dent his might.

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