Buddha electrifies CPM - Party tailors N-power statement to suit its stand

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By BISWAJIT ROY AND OUR BUREAU in Calcutta
  • Published 18.09.07
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Calcutta, Sept. 18: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has given his party a crash course in nuclear power by publicly stressing its indispensability.

Many of his party colleagues have started finding virtues in the alternative source of energy that the CPM high command views with scepticism.

“You just cannot avoid nuclear power,” the chief minister had told business barons yesterday in reply to a question.

The statement is the closest Bhattacharjee could have come to if his intention was to contest the leadership’s stand without breaking party discipline.

The timing of the assertion — in the middle of a standoff in Delhi, where the CPM is insisting that nuclear power is unviable — also was too striking not to interpret it as an indirect reply to Prakash Karat.

Scrambling to paper over differences that have spilled out in the open after the chief minister’s carefully worded reply, the CPM is putting the spin that he has “salvaged” the situation for the party.

The party feels that Karat’s refrain on the nuclear deal had created an impression that the party is against nuclear energy as such, which is what Bhattacharjee has dispelled.

“We are not against nuclear power per se like the Naxalites, but opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal which will make India dependent on the US and entangle us in conditionalities dangerous for the country’s sovereignty. We want an independent nuclear power programme based on thorium which is available in India and not on imported uranium,’’ CPM central committee member Mohammed Salim said.

The MP said: “Far from going beyond the party line, the chief minister has rather salvaged the party’s position. There was some confusion over Karat’s statements on the nuke deal as if the party was opposed to nuclear power and not concerned about the energy crisis. But Buddhada’s stress on nuclear power as an alternative source of energy made a balanced reflection of our position. It sends a right signal to industry and people.’’

CPM veteran Benoy Konar described nuclear energy as “one of the major sources of alternative energy in future”.

“As a Marxist party, we cannot be opposed to science. So, we are not allergic to nuclear power but we are only opposing the Centre’s hasty and anti-national deal with America,’’ Konar said.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose confined himself to what the chief minister had added yesterday, saying: “Let the scientists decide whether nuclear power is needed or not.”