BENGAL POLITICS: Buddha skips, Bardhan stings

BENGAL POLITICS: Buddha skips, Bardhan stings – and Mamata smiles contented ?!!

Mamata Banerjee at her Kalighat home on Friday. (Photo by Amit Datta)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, June 4: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee confirmed today that he would not attend the CPM politburo meeting beginning tomorrow, prompting the party to claim that the possibility of political clashes required the presence of the chief minister in the state.

“No, I’m not going to Delhi. I am staying here,” the chief minister said in Writers’ Buildings this afternoon in his first interaction with reporters since the crushing civic poll results on Wednesday.

Soon after the chief minister spoke, word emerged that CPI leader A.B. Bardhan had told a television channel that the poll result was a “very big defeat for the Left, no doubt about it”.

The assertion by Bardhan, considered close to Prakash Karat whose differences with Bhattacharjee are well known, contradicts the claims of “improvement” made by the state CPM on the basis of statistical acrobatics.

The scathing comments by the CPI leader are expected to set the tone for the discussions at the politburo meeting in Delhi.

Indications that the chief minister might skip the two-day politburo session, which is expected to discuss the civic poll outcome although it is not on the official agenda, had emerged last night itself but some party leaders were hoping that he would change his mind.

“The signal that can go to the party rank and file is that he doesn’t want to face the reality that the party has been routed in the municipal polls and that the same can happen under his stewardship next year. That can be very frustrating for our party cadres who will feel let down,” a CPM leader said today.

For the record, the CPM said Bhattacharjee was staying back because of political clashes.

“After the municipal elections, the situation has become tense in many districts. There are reports of political clashes and the law and order condition may worsen any time. So, at this juncture, the chief minister’s presence is needed in the state. That’s why he is not going… Buddha has also discussed this with Karat,’’ CPM state secretary Biman Bose said.

Four persons have died in clashes in the past 48 hours but a direct link with the civic polls has not been established yet. Bose added that the civic polls in Bengal were not on the politburo’s agenda.

Industries minister Nirupam Sen, close to Karat and sidelined during the civic poll campaign, will also skip the politburo meeting. “Nirupam cannot make it to the politburo meeting because of some important work in the districts,” Bose said.

MEANWHILE IN JHARKHAND

HOMELAND SECURITY: CRPF ready for assault – do things first have to get so politically bad for Presidential Rule and is this the Central message to be misunderstood ?!!

BY AMIT GUPTA

Ranchi, June 4: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is gearing up for fresh action after imposition of President’s rule in the state with special director-general (DG) Vijay Raman reviewing the status of anti-Naxalite operations in Jharkhand that had slowed down considerably over the last couple of months.

Raman, who also commands the special task force for anti-Naxalite operations in the country, arrived here last evening and left for Delhi today after chairing a couple of meetings with the CRPF top brass stationed in the state.

“The anti-rebel operations will gain new momentum. The operations were put on hold for the last couple of months due to several reasons, most importantly the fluid political situation,” said a CRPF deputy inspector-general, who, among others, were briefed by Raman and CRPF inspector-general (operations) P.M. Nair over the past two days.

CRPF sources said the state was all set to ask for deputation of a couple of additional companies during the visit of Union home minister P. Chidambaram, who is scheduled to arrive in the state sometime next week.

Earlier, Chidambaram was supposed to land in Ranchi tomorrow.

Sources said the reason behind Chidambaram’s visit being postponed was non-appointment of advisers to the governor.

The advisers would act as “ministers” of different departments they are given charge of. Moreover, Governor M..H. Farook, custodian of central rule in the state, is still camping in Delhi.

At present, Jharkhand has 12 battalions (72 companies) of CRPF and one battalion (18 teams) of Cobra to tackle the Maoist rebels.

On Wednesday, CRPF had even arranged a community policing programme in Baruhatu, a village near Bundu in Ranchi district, which is known as the den of dreaded Maoist leader Kundan Pahan.

Operation Greenhunt was apparently put on hold for the last couple of months due to the fluid political situation in the state.

Out of 11 Maoist operational areas declared by the Union home ministry, five are in Jharkhand.

Four of the five operational areas share borders with the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Orissa, while the fifth one is Saranda in West Singhbhum.

CRPF has its bases in all strategic locations in the state like Saranda, Tamar, Palamau, Ghatshila and Patamda, among other places.

Interestingly, no major incident of Naxalite violence has been reported in the state in the recent past in contrast to the scenario in Chhattisgarh, Bengal and Orissa.

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