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Bullets in turf war, potshots in party
- Basu for talks, politburo with CM

Calcutta, Nov. 7: Nandigram is still burning but a consensus is eluding not only the Left Front but also the CPM on how to bring peace back.

Party patriarch Jyoti Basu and state secretary Biman Bose spoke in different voices after a Left Front meeting and the home secretary got caught in a skirmish with the CPM on a day pockmarked by incessant gun battles in Nandigram.

CPM supporters are said to have taken control of several villagers through the day. Local party leaders also claimed success in wresting the homes of 300 evicted supporters.

Fusillades were let loose at the Left Front meeting in Calcutta, too. Basu wanted chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to “postpone” deployment of central forces and renew talks with the Opposition.

“I have told (Bhattacharjee) to postpone summoning the CRPF, though the force is present in other areas of the state. I told him that you had called peace meetings twice but failed. I asked him to try again,’’ Basu said.

However, by evening, the CPM politburo issued a statement supporting the chief minister’s decision to call the CRPF to contain the “Maoist violence”. Last week, party chief Prakash Karat had said the “chief minister’s stand is the party’s stand”.

Although Mamata Banerjee had spurned talks offers from the chief minister several times, Basu said: “If needed, I have no problem in talking to her. I have no animosity towards her. If required, I can talk to her a hundred times.”

“What is the local police force doing' Similar clashes took place during my tenure and we tackled it,’’ he added, referring to clashes in Keshpur at the fag end of his reign at Writers’.

State CPM chief Bose, however, sent a subtle message to Basu that since he was no longer the chief minister, the decision should not be his. “Jyotibabu has expressed his opinion. It’s for the chief minister to take the final decision.”

At the front meeting, Bhattacharjee is learnt to have said the CRPF was required to counter the Maoists who had planted at least 15 landmines there and the state police were not equipped to deal with the situation.

However, the chief minister informed the allies that central forces would not be available immediately because of elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

But Basu was no less critical of Trinamul. “I have never heard of this kind of movement. They have blown up bridges, dug up roads and sent motorcycle-borne gangs. They will allow homeless people to return only if they join Trinamul. Can we accept it' Never, even if 100 people die,’’ an agitated Basu said.

At the same time, Basu said: “Who attacked first is not the big question. Both sides have weapons.’’

Bose, however, iterated his party’s right to “resist in self-defence”. He also contested home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray’s remarks yesterday that the CPM triggered the clash from Khejuri. “We told the chief minister that his remarks were based on misinformation and were far off from the reality,’’ Bose said.

But Ray repeated at Writers’ Buildings: “Whatever I said was on the basis of the information received from the district administration and police. The truth has to be told. I can’t say something that isn’t true.”

Later, Mamata ruled out attending talks convened by the government but sought to reap dividends from Basu’s comments. “Basu is a senior leader, he can talk to me. This kind of situation had not taken place during his tenure as chief minister,” she said.

The Trinamul Congress leader also wanted to know whether Basu’s party would accept the outcome of talks.

But the chief minister is said to be in favour of pursuing district-level peace initiatives first.

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