The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Peace baton with Biman

Calcutta, June 2: The Nandigram peace drive is in a quandary with Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh — hurt at “canards” that he was trying to create a parallel front — handing over the responsibility of taking it forward to the CPM’s Biman Bose today.

Mamata Banerjee, who doesn’t want to attend a meeting called by the CPM, said: “I’ll have to study the developments. I had said there’s no problem attending a meeting called by the (CPM’s) front allies.”

At a front meeting today to discuss the peace process, Ghosh took everyone by surprise, saying he wants the CPM to play a bigger role. “I believe that proper homework has to be done before the second round of talks and the CPM should play a bigger role in it. I’ve given up and Biman Bose will henceforth co-ordinate the peace process. I know what Mamata Banerjee wants and that without her co-operation the talks cannot be successful,’’ he was quoted as saying.

Front sources said Ghosh told the meeting that “canards’’ were being spread about him trying to cobble together a “mini front’’ by assuming the key role in the peace talks.

“At this age, I find such remarks unbearable. I convened the all-party meeting after talking to Jyoti Basu, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose. Now I hand over my job,” the Bloc state secretary said.

The CPM’s Shyamal Chakraborty said Mamata wouldn’t be part of a meeting if Ghosh didn’t call it, but the veteran leader was unmoved.

“If Bimanbabu wants me to meet Mamata in her house to discuss how to proceed, I’ll do so. If the Trinamul Cong- ress leader refuses to attend a meeting not convened by me, the front will have to take steps accordingly,” he said.

RSP leader Kshiti Goswami and the CPI’s Nandagopal Bhattacharya were closeted at the CPI office after the meeting to find out the reasons for Ghosh’s decision.

A Bloc leader said Ghosh apprehends that Mamata will walk out of the all-party meet again as the CPM will not describe the police firing in Nandigram as “genocide”. “Ashokda doesn’t want to be seen as a failed negotiator.’’

The RSP brass believe Ghosh’s move would once again relegate the allies to the background. “We had gained in strength after Ashokda got the responsibility, but now the CPM will crack the whip again,” a senior leader said.

As proposed by the chief minister, the front decided that the process to restore normality in Nandigram would continue not only at the state level but also at the local level.

Nandigram death

A young Nandigram housewife died under mysterious circumstances tonight.

The local CPM leadership alleged that Mitali Mondal, 27, was poisoned after some friends of her husband Asit, a Trinamul activist, raped her.

Sumitra Jana, the resident doctor of the Kalagachhia block primary health centre, said Asit brought her around noon.

The health centre said police had been informed, but district superintendent Anil Sriniwas said: “I don’t know if such a thing has happened.”

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