Angry with US but hands tied

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Calcutta
  • Published 25.02.07
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Calcutta, Feb. 25: The CPM may be seething at the US consul general’s visit to the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind office yesterday but the party did not react to it officially as what it finds politically unacceptable is not legally objectionable.

Chief secretary A.K. Deb made it clear today that Henry Jardine neither violated diplomatic norms nor the law. “We have no objections to foreign diplomats meeting leaders of Indian organisations unless they are banned,’’ he said.

In private, CPM leaders described the meeting as another instance of US “interference in the internal matters of other countries”.

Central secretariat member and MP Hannan Mollah even saw in it “an anti-communist” plot. “Although Americans are in talks with us over investment in Bengal, their government would be happy to see the Left dislodged from power,’’ he added.

Jardine’s meeting with Jamait state secretary Siddiqullah Chowdhury brought the CPM and its Left Front partners closer, however little. Their relations may have been strained by the land acquisition and industrialisation drive but they almost echoed each other today.

The Forward Bloc’s Hafiz Alam Sairani felt that the US was “using some Muslim organisations to clean up its image” among Muslims. “We will raise the issue at the next front meeting,’’ he added.

“Chowdhury shouldn’t have met the US envoy as his government has equated Muslims with terrorism,” CPI state secretary Manju Majumdar said.

The CPM’s Mollah said the party would campaign among the people over “the US meddling in the land row”.

Earlier, US ambassador to India Robert Mulford had come under fire for criticising the Left parties for opposing foreign investment in retail.