The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Basu happy after Buddha chat

Calcutta, June 23: Angry nonagenarian Jyoti Basu was calmed today by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who met him four days after a controversy erupted over police action on CPM leaders in Salt Lake during the civic polls.

“I am happy after talking to Buddha for nearly half-an-hour. We have decided that Anil (Biswas, the CPM state secretary) will probe the allegation of police baton-charge on poll day,” Basu told The Telegraph after the meeting.

Bhattacharjee called on his predecessor after two rounds of public criticism by Basu of the administration for the action that left the former chief minister’s close aide, Joykrishna Ghosh, and party MP Amitava Nandi injured.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat had advised Bhattacharjee to put a lid on the controversy.

Basu said Bhattacharjee explained to him why a large police contingent was deployed in Salt Lake following information that outsiders might sneak in on the eve of polls.

The chief minister told Basu that the state election commission had imposed restrictions on the entry of outsiders into Salt Lake. He promised Basu action would be taken if the police were found guilty of committing excess, as alleged. Ghosh was present at the meeting.

Party and government sources said the directive to the police to ensure a violence- free poll in Salt Lake was also linked to the chief minister’s information technology plans.

“In several pre-election meetings at CPM headquarters, Buddhababu shared his concern with the leadership, emphasising that violence would send out a wrong signal to IT investors,” officials said.

“He was mostly concerned with Salt Lake because it occupies the central position in his IT dream,” said an official who was present at a few meetings.

IT minister Manabendra Mukherjee said he was “not exactly aware” of such compulsion, “but we do not stand for violence in any election”.

The chief minister ' and later the home secretary ' instructed the police to sanitise the township.

Bhattacharjee pointed out that over 30,000 professionals were working in Bengal’s IT industry, mostly in Salt Lake Sector V. Disruptive politics would ruin plans to create jobs for another 175,000 in IT and 235,000 in IT-enabled services by 2010. “In the coming 30 months, 13.3 million sq ft of built-up space will be added to the IT industry in Salt Lake and New Town at Rajarhat,” a government official said.

“We wanted to ensure that, unlike in the 2000 civic election in Salt Lake, this time the township was not marred by violence,” he said.

In 2000, alleged CPM supporters had hurled bombs to terrorise voters.

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