The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM bows, ‘for Nandigram’

Calcutta, May 14: Big Brother CPM today yielded to its smaller partners and agreed to a state all-party meeting to restore normality in Nandigram.

The change came not exactly out of a new spirit of accommodation but from its realisation that Mamata Banerjee would not accept a district-level initiative and the party can’t afford to be called a “spoiler of the peace process”.

The decision was formally endorsed by the Left Front in a meeting at the CPM headquarters in the presence of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who had been in favour of a state meeting all through.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose, also the front chairman, and Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh, who has emerged as the key “negotia- tor” for the front, will set the date and venue of the meeting with the Opposition parties.

“I’ve informed Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Somen Mitra about the decision on the state-level meeting, which they had demanded. They welcomed it,’’ Ghosh said later.

The meeting can be held only after Mamata Banerjee returns from Delhi during the weekend.

“The earlier front meeting had decided unanimously to hold the all-party meeting in the district and follow it up at the state level. But we agreed to the Opposition demand as we want peace,” Bose said.

Bose refused to name the parties that will attend the meeting or spell out the agenda.

CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar said: “The Opposition may decide whom they want to bring along.”

But he was not in favour of a Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee representative attending it. “It’s not a local meeting anymore. Only political parties should be there.’’

The CPM wants the meeting to focus on the return of its supporters, rendered homeless by the Pratirodh Committee, and normal life. Trinamul, the Congress and SUCI want to discuss the March 14 police firing, other alleged atrocities by CPM cadres and security forces and the role of some of its leaders in triggering the crisis.

“We all want peace in Nandigram. But the March 14 police firing should top the agenda for the all-party meeting,” Mamata said from Delhi tonight.

In Calcutta, the Congress’s Manas Bhuniya echoed her.

The Bloc’s Ghosh made the allies’ stand clear. “There will be a single agenda: peace. But I favour a discussion on every aspect of the Nandigram crisis — we cannot stop any party from raising other questions.’’

The CPM agreed to let its allies lead the peace initiative after Mamata made it clear that she would not be party to any such move if made by the CPM. Alimuddin Street had earlier turned down PWD minister and RSP leader Kshiti Goswami’s proposal to set up a peace committee led by Ghosh and accused it of trying to cobble together a “mini front” with the Bloc and the CPI.

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