Calcutta, Oct. 30: Alarmed over reports of growing links between criminals and a section of CPM leaders, the party's partners in the Left Front demanded an emergency meeting of the coalition. The 'criminalisation of the CPM', front leaders claimed, was tarnishing the image of the other parties as well.
The immediate provocation was the arrest of notorious criminal hatkata Dilip from footballer Sasthi Duley's house in Haripal, Hooghly, yesterday and allegations that shelter was provided at transport minister Subhas Chakraborty's instance.
Chakraborty has dismissed the claim, which has come as a major embarrassment to the front.
The minister today reiterated he did not know Dilip. 'I don't understand why I am being dragged into the controversy,' he said, adding that Sasthi was also not involved.
The Opposition Congress and Trinamul Congress have found a handle and demanded the resignation of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government over growing criminalisation of politics.
Trinamul leader Subrata Mukherjee said Bhattacharjee should resign to 'uphold the Left Front's image'.
CPI state secretary Manju Kumar Majumdar today said the front's image has taken a beating following the arrests of Avtar Singh, CPM MP Jyotirmoyee Sikdar's husband, Biswajyoti Basu, a CPM zonal committee member in connection with Dr Sushil Pal's murder, and Dilip.
'Time has come for soul-searching. We cannot allow criminals to infiltrate our organisation taking advantage of our long stay in Bengal,' he said, adding a threadbare discussion is the need of the hour.
RSP leader Kshiti Goswami, a former minister, echoed him. 'We are deeply concerned about the manner in which a front minister is being dragged into the controversy over providing shelter to the gangster. We are being told the accused had got entry into the footballer's residence at the minister's instance. We call upon the CPM to probe the allegations and place it before the Left Front,' he said. 'Unless this is done, it will tarnish our image as well.'
Goswami felt an independent probe would help the CPM salvage its image. He congratulated chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for ordering a crackdown on criminals owing allegiance to the CPM and other parties.
State Forward Bloc secretary Ashok Ghosh said though it is a matter for the police to investigate, 'why should we give others an opportunity to level such allegations' Obviously, something about our conduct must have prompted it'.
And the allegations are flowing. 'Yesterday's arrest of a CPM-backed goon again shows the CPM has been sponsoring criminals to retain power in Bengal,' said former state Congress chief Somen Mitra.