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Party wakes up to ‘pariah’ force virtues

Calcutta, Oct. 29: The CPM would not mind tapping the might of central forces if they help restore rule of law in Nandigram and allow party supporters to return home.

“For 11 months, every administrative and political effort to ensure peace in Nandigram has been foiled. Now that the chief minister has asked the Union home minister to send a force to break the impasse and bring back peace, we have no other option but to support it,” CPM state secretary Biman Bose said.

Aware of the party’s his-tory of viewing central forces with suspicion, Bose painstakingly listed the “failed peace efforts” since violence broke out on January 3.

The party had been wrestling with a big concern — whether the request for central forces would be construed as an admission of the failure of the state administration — which made it rule out a similar proposal a few months ago.

However, the panchayat polls next year and the possibility of general elections made the party make up its mind that Nandigram cannot be allowed to remain a “liberated zone”. The party also seems to be hoping that the spectre of central forces might goad the Trinamul Congress-led Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee to the talks table.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee concurred with the “liberated- zone” tag. Asked if Nandigram would turn into a “liberated zone”, he said: “What’s new in that' The police can’t make any movement there now.”

Bhattacharjee wondered why the Pratirodh Committee was still in place, though the government had declared that there would be no land acquisition in Nandigram.

In a bid to buttress his belief that Naxalites were fomenting the unrest, the chief minister gave specific details. “There is one Ranjit Pal, who is an accused in the murder of MP Sudhir Mahato, and the Bandimukti Committee, an APDR outfit, is moving along with the Naxalites there. Can this continue for long'”

Bose portrayed the decision to seek central forces as a purely administrative measure. “The government and not Alimuddin Street will decide about the deployment.”

He added that “the government might require help from the coast guard”. Nandigram “is accessible by water from three sides”.

Bose justified the CPM’s armed “resistance”. “If bombs are hurled and bullets fired from Nandigram, our supporters in Khejuri are not expected to throw rosogollas,” he said.

Ginger group split

The CPM’s major allies are divided on whether to deploy central forces in Nandigram.

Out of the three partners that make the anti-CPM ginger group within the Left Front, the RSP was opposed to the plan while the Forward Bloc supported it. The CPI declined comment on the deployment, but preferred the renewal of the political process.

“The government will only emulate the Congress regime of the 1970s by deploying central forces to bring back peace. We have to face public wrath if the CRPF commits excesses. It will also tantamount to the failure of the police,” RSP leader Kshiti Goswami said.

Forward Bloc leader Hafiz Alam Sairani differed. “Our leader, Ashok Ghosh (who had led a peace initiative) yesterday urged the chief minister to normalise the situation at any cost. The chief minister promised to do so. We have to administer medicine according to the the disease,” he said.

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