The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani and CM talk terror but in private

New Delhi, May 13: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said the violence in the state was not a one-sided attack on the Opposition by CPM cadre.

At a 15-minute one on one with deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani, Bhattacharjee supplied him a list of 41 people killed in the panchayat violence.

Sources in the Union home ministry said Bhattacharjee was on the defensive throughout the meeting. According to his list, the people killed in the state between April 8 and May 13, the day of the poll, include 26 CPM cadre, eight Congress supporters, two from the Trinamul Congress, two from the SUCI, one from the Jharkhand Party and one from the RSP and the CPI.

“The list tells its own story,” a CPM source explained. The chief minister’s contention was that the reports of violence were exaggerated by some parties, especially Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul, the source added.

“If we were that powerful and the violence was one-sided, would so many of our cadre be sacrificed' asked a CPM leader. This is what the chief minister told Advani.

Sources in the home ministry said Delhi is worried about the fallout of the violence and that it might lead to more bloodshed in Bengal.

Advani, who holds charge of the home department, asked Bhattacharjee to make sure that the violence does not continue. “This type of violence is not expected during polls in a democratic setup,” Advani is said to have told the chief minister.

Bhattacharjee was in the capital today to attend a meeting of the inter-state council convened by the deputy Prime Minister. Much of the morning and early afternoon was devoted to inter-state issues but Advani and Bhattacharjee spoke in private before the formal session took off.

The talk revolved around the poll violence. But Bhattacharjee refused to take questions on what they discussed. He turned around and walked off to the lift at Banga Bhavan. Earlier, he spoke on the inter-state council standing committee meeting.

Advani, too, refused to disclose what he told the chief minister. “He (Bhattacharjee) did most of the talking,” the deputy Prime Minister said.

Did he give most of the explanations, too, Advani was asked. There was no reply.

The deputy Prime Minister, who shares a personal rapport with the Marxist chief minister, has not ticked off Bhattacharjee publicly at any point, despite the violence.

Advani and officials in his ministry have been receiving reports from several quarters about intimidation of Opposition candidates in the election. Mamata, an NDA partner, has also been complaining about it.

There is a feeling in North Block, though, that despite his best efforts, Bhattacharjee has little control of his party cadre.

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