The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nandigram neutral line

Calcutta, May 6: Even at the risk of displeasing a section of his party, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is firm on following the line of administrative neutrality in dealing with the situation at Nandigram.

This was evident from the way the chief minister defended the home secretary’s “status report” on Nandigram at the CPM state committee meeting today. If the report had indicated the chief minister’s approach, he made it even clearer to his comrades.

“The government cannot suppress information to the high court about the incidents in which CPM supporters were involved. If our men do wrong, we should not conceal it. However, the report mentioned 25 incidents but a section of the media and the Opposition only highlighted the three incidents involving our supporters,’’ Bhattacharjee said.

This does not mean, however, that Bhattacharjee’s line is at odds with the CPM’s political campaign on Nandigram.

The party’s approach was iterated in a statement that accused the Opposition and other “reactionary forces” of inciting fresh violence.

The remarks by Jyoti Basu after the meeting suggested that he endorses the chief minister’s stand, while emphasising the party’s line of a political approach. “I have stressed on an all-party meet. However, if the Opposition continues to boycott it, police will move in,’’ Basu said. On home secretary P.R. Ray’s report, he said: “Let the government deal with it.’’

Bhattacharjee wants the administrative steps to be free of any pressure from his party. It is believed that he had taken the party into confidence on the line suggested in the home secretary’s report.

The need for administrative neutrality, Bhattacharjee evidently believes, presupposes that the government faces the facts on the ground. Hence the accusations in the home secretary’s report at both the CPM and the Trinamul Congress.

Mamata Banerjee seems to have only partially read the report when she hailed it. The Trinamul leader retracted and went into a sulk when she realised that the report did not really give her an edge.

Bhattacharjee’s case for administrative neutrality has, therefore, left both his party and Mamata complaining. Party veteran Benoy Konar had suggested that Ray “qualifies to be called Trinamul’s home secretary” if he has not mentioned the “regular assaults on us and holds the party responsible”.

Echoing the sentiment, the state committee statement said: “The Opposition has unleashed a violent campaign in Nandigram, attacking common people as well as CPM supporters.”

The administrative steps the government is thinking of could take some shape tomorrow at a meeting of senior officials and police officers at Writers’ Buildings.

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