The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM Big Two doubtful
- Bid to keep brass away from peace talks & firing squad

Calcutta, May 16: Buddha- deb Bhattacharjee appears unlikely to attend the all-party meeting on Nandigram and Mamata Banerjee is sniffing a conspiracy.

CPM state secretariat member Benoy Konar said Bengal party secretary Biman Bose, too, might skip the meeting as it has not been “convened by him in his capacity as Left Front chairman”.

Front sources said the CPM was trying not to involve its top leadership in the peace drive by the allies.

The CPM does not, apparently, want to commit itself to any “formula” worked out at the meeting, so that it does not become binding on the government and the party.

The Trinamul Congress chief said she hasn’t decided what she might do if the chief minister gave the meeting a miss. “I had heard that the chief minister was willing to attend the meeting even outside Writers’ (Buildings). It’s most unfortunate if he says ‘no’ now. It is clear that the CPM is working to a plan,” she added.

Mamata had refused to attend an all-party meeting called by the government or the CPM. She also wanted it to be held outside Writers’.

The CPM is pretty sure the Opposition would spare no effort to embarrass the government over the 14 deaths after police firing on March 14 at the all-party meet.

“It is a meeting of the parties. The chief minister represents the government. He’d have been part of it had he called it,” Konar told The Telegraph.

Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh, the front’s key peace negotiator and convener of the meeting, also hinted at the possibility of the chief minister skipping the meeting. After his talks with Bose this morning, Ghosh said: “Bimanbabu told me that the chief minister’s presence would depend on whether he had other preoccupations.’’

Bose had earlier said Bhattacharjee would attend the meeting, “if needed”, as a party representative.

Ghosh insisted that the peace initiative was kicked off following the chief minister’s “green signal”.

“We’ve been keeping him posted about all the developments.’’

The Bloc leader stressed on the presence of Mamata, Bose and Jyoti Basu to make the meeting “fruitful”.

The CPM politburo is meeting in Delhi on May 25 and 26. “So, the all-party meeting wouldn’t be held on May 26, as proposed earlier,” he said.

Efforts are on to hold it be-tween May 22 and 24 or after May 27, the day five municip- alities are going to the polls and byelections are being held for 527 panchayat and municipal seats.

A final decision is expected after Ghosh and Mamata meet in the next couple of days.

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