The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Capitulation charge explodes on CPM

Calcutta, Nov. 23: The CPM today denied it had a hand in Taslima Nasreen’s hurried exit from the city and claimed its role was limited to helping the author implement her decision to leave “on her own”.

“Our party did not take any initiative to send Taslima away. I have no knowledge whether it was a move by the administration,” CPM state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty said.

“As far as I know, Taslima left on her own and the state government’s role was limited to helping her in her departure. But she could not stay in Rajasthan and had to leave for Delhi.”

The clarification came as a section of the party leadership and some Left partners claimed the CPM had “capitulated” to pressure from minority hardliners who ran riot on Wednesday demanding her expulsion.

The hardliners, too, seemed to think of her exit as a “victory” for them. “We have won the first round as the government has been compelled to honour minority sentiment,” Idris Ali, the leader of the All India Minority Forum, said.

“If they allow Taslima to come back, we will hit the streets again and the state will not be able to contain public anger next time.”

Chakraborty refused comment on whether the government had given in to pressure. He was non-committal when asked if it would take the initiative to bring Taslima back.

“It is for the government to decide. Let the chief minister come back (from Siliguri). We will discuss,” he said.

A jarring note was, however, struck by transport minister Subhas Chakraborty who said at a party meeting in Murshidabad that Taslima was welcome to come back if she wished.

“If you are feeling insecure elsewhere, you can come back. Calcutta can ensure your safety. Since I can’t give you an assurance on behalf of the government, I invite you to stay at my Salt Lake residence.”

The CPM is in a spot because it wants to maintain its secular credentials as well as keep the minorities on the right side. A section of the city intelligentsia also wants Bengal to allow Taslima to stay on.

CPM insiders, however, said the government was not keen to have Taslima back.

“The unprecedented violence has sent a signal that hardliners have made inroads among Muslim youths. The government should not dither before taking pre-emptive action as in the Rizwanur Rahman case,” a CPM central committee member said.

“Our first concern is for Calcutta’s safety and peace.”

But others in the party did not buy the argument. “The government acted out of panic as it feared a repeat of violence after Friday prayers,” a CPM minority minister claimed.

Left partners said the CPM had made Taslima a “scapegoat” to “make good its loss of minority support” over Nandigram and Rizwanur’s death.

CPI state secretary Manju Mazumdar said by moving out Taslima on the pretext of security, the government had “indicated its surrender to fundamentalist forces and undermined the secular and democratic tradition of Bengal”.

RSP veteran Kshiti Goswami said the state’s secular image had taken a beating.

“The CPM and the government have never really confronted the fundamentalists and capitulated in the face of the first major challenge. Biman Bose had revealed the party’s intention by asking Taslima to leave,” he claimed.

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