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Mamata wakes up to Naxalite hijack threat

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  • Published 18.04.07

Calcutta, April 18: Mamata Banerjee is trying to distance herself from Naxalites, who were threatening to hijack her movement against land acquisition.

She revealed her intent to part ways with the rebels — a regular feature in her road shows and rallies — to some close aides last week when they complained about the Naxalites’ “growing clout” in the Trinamul Congress-led Save Farmland Committee.

The committee was floated during land acquisition for the Tata Motors project in Singur.

“We must not allow the Naxalites to flaunt their clout before us. Trinamul is by itself a force to reckon with,” Mamata was quoted as saying.

Pushed to the brink of political oblivion after her party’s crushing defeat in last year’s Assembly polls, Singur, Nandigram and the Naxalite supp-ort helped her stage a comeback. “The Naxalites helped her re-establish contact with the grassroots,” a Trinamul leader said.

Although larger Naxalite groups like the CPI(ML) Liberation and the CPI(ML) led by Kanu Sanyal are not with Mamata, four smaller ones played an active role in the land war.

They were responsible for many of the guerrilla attacks on the fencing — uprooting posts and setting it on fire — around the Tata plot in Singur. From the anti-acquisition movement, the focus of the Singur agitation shifted to law and order, thanks to the violence.

Mamata refused to share a platform with the Naxalites at an anti-acquisition rally at Esplanade on Friday. Her “disenchantment” with the direction in which the rebels had steered her movement became apparent when she said that day she was opposed to the bid to pull down the Tata fence.

The Trinamul chief has also sent directives to party functionaries in the districts to see to it that Trinamul is not perceived to be anti-industry.

“With the panchayat polls only a year away, we can’t afford to rub shoulders with the Naxalites,” a Trinamul leader said. “Our links with them will spell bring disaster in the polls since most people are scared of the extremists and do not trust them,” he added.

Naxalite leaders admitted that political compulsions have strained Mamata’s “association” with them.

“She has to keep her own political identity intact. She does not want to be branded pro-Naxalite despite being keen on taking our help to resist land acquisition,” said Purnendu Bose of the West Bengal State Organising Committee of CPI(ML).

Another rebel leader said Mamata has adopted a calculated ploy of maintaining equi-distance from the Naxalites and the state BJP. “She is with the NDA at the national level, but not in the state where the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind is part of her movement. In the same way, she is very much with the Naxalites, but doesn’t want to let them steer the course.”