The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RSP praises rebel fight for poor

Feb. 14: Extremist organisations such as the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre today got support from unexpected quarters when the RSP appreciated their “on-going fight for the poor and landless labourers in Bengal”.

The RSP’s support, voiced by senior party leader and PWD minister Amar Chowdhury in Burdwan, was in sharp contrast to the tough stand adopted by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The chief minister and the CPM have ruled out talks with the People’s War and the MCC. However, Chowdhury felt the government should initiate a discussion with them.

“We must support them as they are fighting for the rural poor. Our government has failed to protect the interests of agricultural workers, though we have distributed land among them and introduced a panchayati raj system in Bengal,” Chowdhury said at a two-day state committee meeting of the party-controlled West Bengal State Electricity Board Employees’ Union.

“We never cared to know how they would till the land and sell the agricultural produce,” he said.

The minister claimed that the activities of the People’s War and the MCC were helping Left forces and said he would urge Bhattacharjee to hold talks with them “to strengthen Left unity”.

“We will raise the matter at a meeting of the Left Front as we want to unite all the Left forces against the BJP-led coalition at the Centre that has stayed in power by exploiting the religious sentiments of the people,” observed Chowdhury when asked why the RSP supports negotiations with the two outfits considered by the CPM as separatist forces.

Chowdhury said the movement of the two rebel organisations in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh was justified as both were fighting to protect the interests of landless labourers and the working class.

The RSP’s stand vis-à-vis the People’s War and the MCC have come as a total surprise to the CPM leadership. The former CPM MP from Katwa, Mehboob Zahedi, contradicted Chowdhury and rejected the demand for inviting the outfits for talks.

“They (the People’s War and the MCC) believe in the politics of elimination and are engaged in killing people, including policemen, and spreading terrorism in the villages of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. They are following the same line in Bengal. We are ready to initiate talks with them only if they give up the path of violence and stop their separatist movement,” Zahedi said.

But Chowdhury claimed that the outfits were trying to hasten land reforms in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar. “We should not ignore them in Bengal, as they have been receiving support from the poorer sections of the people,” he later told newspersons.

The CPM leadership echoed the former MP. Party state secretary Anil Biswas, who was touring Nadia, could not be contacted. But senior party leaders in Calcutta made it clear that there was no question of initiating talks with them.

“They have been killing our men. They have already murdered 12 CPM workers in Bengal during the past two years. How can we invite them for talks'” asked a central committee member of the party.

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