Somnath Chatterjee with Bhattacharjee on Thursday. Telegraph picture
Calcutta, Sept. 3: Money — that bewitching temptress of capitalism — was put to generous use by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today to rub salt into the wounds of opponents lacerated by the Vedic Village controversy.
Chaaridikey taka, prochur taka. Taka shudhu urchhe. Ei taka thekei ashchhe annay, ashchhe paap (all around you there is money, a lot of money. Money is flying around. From this money springs wrongdoing and sin), the chief minister told a condolence meeting today without making any mention of Vedic Village.
The chief ministers thrust on probity coincided with the raging controversy involving Vedic Village and Abdur Rezzak Mollah, the land and land reforms minister who finds himself at the receiving end after having targeted Bhattacharjee for the past few years on land acquisition for industry.
The comments also came on the eve of the CPMs weekly state secretariat meeting where, sources said, Mollah could be called if clarifications are needed on his report on an out-of-court settlement with the Vedic promoters. But Mollah said that till this evening, he had not received any summons.
If Mollah had ridden the moral high horse till the Vedic controversy broke, the reins were seized by Bhattacharjee today at the meeting to mourn the death of Pranab Sen, a CPM theoretician close to the chief minister.
Bhattacharjee dwelt at length on the simple life and high ideals of Sen who died last month.
It is very important to be strong enough to resist temptation and stand by ones political ideology. A communist is no more a communist if he deviates from his political ideology. In Pranabda, we find all such exceptional qualities and we must all emulate him, Bhattacharjee said.
The chief minister was referring to Sen but if some in the audience thought he had the Vedic Village controversy on his mind, they cannot be blamed. Mollahs department had entered into the agreement with the Vedic Village promoters to lease them land for a song, although there was no legal compulsion to do so. The minister had also said he had visited the resorts spa a number of times for treatment.
Bhattacharjee kept returning to the theme of probity in public life.
The chief minister said Sen used to oversee his election campaign in Jadavpur. Pranabda used to take all decisions regarding expenditure of the funds allotted to me as an MLA and I was often informed later. Everybody will miss him, Bhattacharjee said.
Sharing the dais with Bhattacharjee were Somnath Chatterjee, the former Speaker expelled from the CPM, and a host of other party leaders.
Chatterjee also mentioned the late Sens honesty and integrity all through his life. We all honour Pranabbabus simple and honest life. He set an example for all of us, he said.
Chatterjee, who fell out with the CPMs central leadership, particularly general secretary Prakash Karat, continues to be in close touch with the partys Bengal functionaries. It was Bhattacharjee who requested Chatterjee to take the seat next to him when the latter appeared hesitant. All other leaders present, including Rabin Deb, Sujan Chakraborty and Kanti Ganguly, got up from their seats to exchange pleasantries with Chatterjee.
Chief minister Bhattacharjee will skip the CPM politburo meeting in Delhi, scheduled from Saturday for two days. He is unwell and feeling weak. But he will attend the secretariat meeting, an aide said.
But CPM sources said Bhattacharjee had decided to stay back in Calcutta to deal with the Vedic issue and could break his silence after the state secretariat meeting tomorrow.
This evening, Mollah pooh-poohed questions whether he was thinking of resigning. Why should I resign? I am sticking to my position that I am clean. Neither am I going to oblige anybody nor has the party asked me, he said.
The state secretariat is also likely to discuss reports from IT minister Debesh Das and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya on the IT township project with the Vedic promoters.
A pending issue before the secretariat is finalising the names of new members. Had the Vedic controversy not unfolded, Mollah would have been a surefire nominee.
It is not clear whether the secretariat will take up the issue tomorrow, and the party may not want to acknowledge in public any link between the non-inclusion of Mollah and the Vedic issue.
Front-runners to fill the secretariat seats include Rabin Deb, Rajya Sabha MP Mainul Hassan, Hannan Mollah and Nilotpal Basu.