SECULAR DILEMMA FOR MAMATA 

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By FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 26.11.01
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New Delhi, Nov. 26 :    New Delhi, Nov. 26:  Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee betrayed her dilemma again today, supporting the secular cause while careful not to rub the NDA on the wrong side. Banerjee, however, displayed consistency in her attack on the CPM, whatever the issue. While the Lok Sabha was discussing the controversial NCERT circular to CBSE schools to delete objectionable portions from history textbooks during zero hour, Banerjee took the middle path saying, "if there is anything controversial we will press the government for a full discussion. Our education minister should clarify." Stressing that "secularism is our bedrock," Banerjee added, "We should not politicise education." But the irrepressible Trinamul chief also used the opportunity to take pot-shots at the CPM. Referring to the CPM's charge of Talibanisation of education, she said: "It does not look nice for those who take out processions in Calcutta in favour of Taliban." Later, flanked by party colleagues Sudip Bandopadhyaya and Nitish Sengupta, Banerjee raised the issue of the influx of Hindus from Bangladesh. The Congress also expressed serious concern over the influx and asked the government to direct the BSF to exercise restrain. Banerjee said the minorities of Bangladesh, who had fled to West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya, should not be considered intruders nor described as infiltrators but granted refugee status and housed in relief camps. Recalling the death of a girl recently killed in firing by the BSF, Banerjee said the border guards should not do anything that would increase tension. Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the refugee influx had been triggered by atrocities committed on minorities by fundamentalist elements in Bangladesh after the change of government in Dhaka. Chowdhury also sought restraint on part of the BSF guarding the border, saying it should not resort to firing. He demanded that India take up the refugee problem with the Khaleda Zia government in Bangladesh.