Monday, November 12, 2007

Karat justifies Nandigram, blames Trinamul, Maoists


New Delhi : The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Prakash Karat Monday said the violence in West Bengal's Nandigram was the work of the rival Trinamul Congress "in league with the Maoists" who were trying to "dislodge the legitimate representatives" of the people there.

Stating that the situation in Nandigram had been "abnormal" for the last 11 months, Karat said: "We are not going to oblige them (opponents) to dislodge us by force by taking help from the Maoists."

Justifying his party-led government's stance on Nandigram, where several people have been killed in clashes between the CPI-M and Trinamul supporters, Karat said there was no question of conflict over the issue of a proposed chemical hub at Nandigram as it had been scrapped. "Yet, the whole area was under siege on the spurious pretext of protection of land," he said, referring to the Trinamul-backed anti-land acquisition Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC).

The CPI-M has been under severe attack from its own allies and others who allege that the situation had worsened in Nandigram due to "party-sponsored violence".

In a direct dig at Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee, Karat said: "The Trinamul Congress could not win the confidence of the people of West Bengal through democratically held elections and thus they have taken the help of the Maoists' in expanding their area of influence from February."

Responding to the Left Front allies' criticism of his party over Nandigram, Karat said: "We would like to maintain unity of the Left Front. As the largest constituent, we are conscious of our responsibility to maintain unity. But all other parties also have to be conscious of their role in contributing to strengthen the unity."

Denying that there had been any failure of the state government in controlling the situation, Karat claimed that the police and the administration had "not been allowed to function in the area".

"The state government took a conscious decision not to enter there after the March 14 incident (when 14 people were killed in police firing) and the high court ex-parte (direction)," he said.

"The situation was abnormal and disturbed. Even the administration was not allowed to move in."

He said the state government was now trying to "bring the situation under control and for peace to be restored to allow all the evicted families to return to their lands".

Pointing out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had stated that the Maoists were the greatest threat to the country, Karat said: "How were the Maoists allowed to capture a small territory in a state where there is a legitimate and elected government? The governor, the high court and the central government should think about it."

Karat said at least 27 party activists had been killed and at least 1,500 Left supporters were still in refugee camps there. However, he did not mention the number of people killed or injured from rival camps.

"With the deployment of central paramilitary forces, the Left Front government should make all efforts for rehabilitation and resumption of development work in the area," he said.

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