The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM and Bloc bury paddy purchase hatchet

Calcutta, Jan. 11: Rattled by the increasing grumbling within the Left Front, particularly from the Forward Bloc, the CPM leadership today held a marathon meeting with Bloc leaders at its Alimuddin Street headquarters.

Despite their preoccupation with the Brigade rally tomorrow, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Front chairman Biman Bose met Ashok Ghosh, agriculture minister Kamal Guha and Jayanta Roy of the Bloc and discussed the contentious issues. They also talked about the development projects in north Bengal and the problem of erosion of embankments in Hooghly.

The leaders managed to end a misunderstanding over forwarding a file on purchase of paddy by the food department to the chief minister with the Bloc leaders attributing it to the time taken in processing the same.

In the meeting, which lasted over one-and-a-half hours, the chief minister is said to have resented the delay of Bloc leader and food and civil supplies minister Kalimuddin Shams in forwarding the file to him. He apparently reiterated his stand against public criticism of government policies and performance by a section of his Cabinet colleagues, a move that had almost sparked a spat with agriculture minister Guha in Wednesday’s core committee meeting.

Hours after the meeting, Shams said though he had forwarded the file to the chief minister in time, it was delayed by some procedural problems. “We have taken a loan of Rs 150 crore from the Reserve Bank of India to purchase six lakh metric tonnes of paddy,” he added.

Even as the two Front partners were closeted to sort out their differences, minister for agricultural marketing Chhaya Ghosh (of the Bloc) hit out at finance minister Asim Dasgupta for not releasing budgetary funds to her department. Addressing a rally at Behrampore, she alleged that her department could not repair roads in Murshidabad due to a paucity of funds.

After the meeting, an upbeat Bose promised: “Tomorrow’s rally will be massive one.” Already, people from far-flung districts have started coming in.

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