The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dear MP, read but don’t talk

New Delhi, Nov. 19: The CPM today wrote an open letter to all MPs to try and save face over Nandigram and counter the Opposition clamour for a discussion in Parliament.

The 15-page letter listed the 27 party supporters it said were killed between January and November in Nandigram but was silent on the rest of the dead or missing.

Written by Sitaram Yechury and Basudeb Acharya, the letter attacked “the malicious and false propaganda” against the party and the Bengal government, and blamed the violence on “a political gang-up to capture territory through the use of armed forces”.

The letter said the Bengal government had dropped the idea of a chemical hub in the area as early as February but a “false campaign” was carried out to create panic among the residents.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s categorical assurance about not acquiring Nandigram land for industry, though, had come after the police firing on March 14 when 14 people were killed.

The letter mentioned the “incidents” that it said led to the eviction of thousands of CPM supporters who remained in refugee camps for 11 months. It described how all schools, health programmes and government schemes came to a halt during this period.

“The need of the hour is peace and development. The Left Front is committed to such a path,” it said.

“We hope that with (the) cooperation of all peace-loving citizens, normal life in Nandigram can be restored at the earliest and all its residents can live together in peace and harmony as they have done for all these years.”

The letter came after the BJP launched a determined effort to force a discussion on Nandigram in Parliament — a demand the Marxist members resisted strongly.

“Our objection is not against a debate on Nandigram but against the violation of rules and procedures of Parliament, which do not allow matters that are exclusive state subjects to be debated,” Yechury told reporters hours after CPM members had clashed with National Democratic Alliance leaders in Parliament.

The CPM leader condemned the BJP for disrupting Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings today.

“There is no precedent of a state law-and-order subject being discussed in Parliament,” he said. “If they want to have a discussion under the rules, they should link it up with debates on SEZs (special economic zones) or Maoist violence.”

The CPM has alleged a Maoist hand in the Nandigram flare-up.

Asked how a discussion could then have been allowed on the Tehelka exposé on the 2002 Gujarat communal violence, he said the rules allow “an attack on minorities” to be discussed in Parliament.

“Even the Supreme Court had said that the matter concerned secularism, a fundamental feature of the Constitution,” Yechury said.

“The apex court had earlier, on this basis, upheld the dismissal of four state governments by the Narasimha Rao government after the Babri Masjid demolition.”

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