| Bhattacharjee and Gandhi at the Calcutta film festival. Picture by Aranya Sen
Calcutta, Nov. 10: The CPM today accused Gopalkrishna Gandhi of inciting violence and taking sides on Nandigram.
It was expected that the party would resent the governor’s statement yesterday describing the “recapture” of land by the CPM as “unlawful and unacceptable”.
But the tone of the reaction signalled a fresh round of confrontation — with the governor drawn into it.
The politburo’s statement in the evening suggested this new battle could be fought in Delhi as well. “This is not the role expected from the office of governor,” it said.
For now, though, the party has not sought his removal.
“The governor has once again overstepped the constitutional limit of the highest office of the state. His latest statement will not only be an impediment to the restoration of peace in Nandigram but it will also stoke further violence,” CPM state secretary Biman Bose said.
The state secretariat held an “emergency meeting” in the morning to work out how to undo the damage caused by Gandhi’s criticism before the CPM squads had finished the operation in Nandigram, where their Trinamul-led rivals are holding on in parts.
The strategy, as Bose’s statement revealed, was not only to attack Gandhi as an agony uncle of the Opposition but also to hold him “partially” responsible for the violence, thus challenging his integrity as a constitutional authority and a moral voice.
“The governor’s agony for the ardour of Deepavali being dampened could have been better appreciated if this had been expressed during Id and Durga Puja when the TMC-Maoist combine was capturing village after village…’’ Bose said.
“When our people were abducted, raped and murdered, he kept mum…. He has failed to maintain his impartiality.”
Jyoti Basu, whom Gandhi had described as “our elder statesman”, agreed. “It (the statement) is uncalled for and will only add to the problem in Nandigram. It will adversely impact on the peace process.”
The CPM complained that the “government was partially handicapped to respond (to contain violence) because of a situation precipitated by his earlier statement in March 2007”. Gandhi had then spoken out against the police firing that killed 14.
Although the governor yesterday also spoke of the eviction of CPM supporters by their opponents and cautioned against Maoist presence, the party dismissed this as “lip service”.
Responding to criticism that he had not issued a statement when Nandigram’s CPI MLA was attacked by Trinamul workers in April, the governor’s press secretary tonight said Gandhi had written to Sheikh Iliyas Mohammed, condemning the attack and wishing him speedy recovery.
The CPM and the CPI also took up the statement with the Prime Minister, who heard them out in silence.