The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front fights at harmony meet

Calcutta, Sept. 25: A mudfight broke out among Left Front partners today at a meeting to evolve means to ensure better co-ordination among them.

Agriculture minister Kamal Guha’s alleged comments against chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took centrestage as the front leaders hurled allegations and issued denials.

Fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee, a Forward Bloc leader, started the fire referring to Guha’s recent tirade against the chief minister. Guha had called Bhattacharjee (deputy Prime Minister) L.K. “Advani’s disciple” at a public meeting, said Chatterjee. “Is it the way to talk about our chief minister'” he asked.

Not happy with just airing his dislike for Guha’s comments, Chatterjee accused him of nepotism. Guha has provided a job to his son in the Seed Corporation of India, he alleged.

Guha was not present at the meeting. In his absence, party colleagues launched the defence. Veteran Bloc leader and state party secretary Ashok Ghosh denied the charge. “It is a totally false and baseless allegation,” an angry Ghosh said.

Front chairman Biman Bose intervened and urged the partners in the government not to get “involved in controversy”.

Differences should be resolved through discussion, he said. Even when Bose was trying to broker peace among the partners, allegations flew thick and fast. Bose, a CPM politburo member, said the front partners should try to sort out problems within the front instead of going public.

“We will convene a meeting of the Left Front committee to discuss contentious issues within three days of receiving an intimation from the concerned front partner (Guha). If necessary, our party, the CPM, will arrange a meeting between the contending partners and help them sort out differences,” Bose said.

In an obvious reference to Guha’s remarks on the chief minister’s reported failure to draw the Centre’s attention to erosion by the Ganga in north Bengal, Bose said: “Every minister is entitled to talk about the problems his department is faced with. However, if he has something to say about other ministers’ departments, he should first place his views before the front committee. We will try to resolve the problems through discussions. This is necessary to ensure greater co-ordination among the partners and strengthen unity within the front.”

Contacted at his residence, Guha welcomed the front chairman’s views. Bose’s unity sermon at the meeting had an impact. The warring partners went back to talking truce between them.

The front observed “very few meetings of the cabinet’s core committee (were) taking place” and urged the chief minister to “show greater initiative in holding core committee meetings”.

The front will meet again on September 29 to discuss transport minister Subhas Chakraborty’s proposal to increase bus and mini-bus fares.

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