Thursday, November 15, 2007

People’s CM is but a CPM man

Artistes and intellectuals match steps with common people as they take part in a procession along SN Banerjee Road to protest against the atrocities in Nandigram on Wednesday.

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Nov. 14: “I am not above my party”, declared Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today when asked whether he would like to dispel the notion that he is the chief minister of only the CPI-M and not of the state. “Why should I do so? Should I tell you that I am above my party? But I know my responsibility as chief minister. It is the Opposition who had shown the way in Nandigram.”
He said: “I listen to everyone but I also have to listen to my party. I am the chief minister and a CPI-M leader as well. I cannot deny my political identity. Since I have taken oath under the Constitution, my primary responsibility is to function as chief minister”. The RSP wondered whether he forgot that he was in Writers’ Buildings when he made the remarks. “When he is in the state secretariat his identity is that of the chief minister”, Mr Manoj Bhattacharya, RSP leader said.
The chief minister today spoke in the same voice as his party’s state secretary, Mr Biman Bose, who had earlier said: “The sun has indeed risen”. “But it would be some time before its warmth is felt” , said Mr Bhattacharjee. The chief minister trained his guns on a Bartaman reporter who had pointed out that his yesterday’s statement was being deemed as provocative. “Your paper has been giving enough provocation for the past 11 months. Any other state government would have shut it down. But I do not want to dirty my hands.” Clarifying his yesterday’s statement, Mr Bhattacharjee initially said by “our people” he had meant “both sides” but then corrected himself, saying: “I meant CPI-M boys and workers. Some people are projecting that CPI-M started the violence but it was BUPC, TMC and Maoists who created problems with arms. It was only in the past two or three days that the CPI-M paid them back in same coin.”
But he denied that it was armed outsiders who had “recaptured” Nandigram. “I do not admit that outsiders entered Nandigram with arms. Our party has decided that there would not be any outsider in Nandigram.”
Denying that CRPF deployment was delayed to facilitate the entry of armed cadres, the chief minister said: “I do not know. I was busy trying to get CRPF from the Centre.” Mr Bhattacharjee dismissed any possibility of a repetition of the Nandigram incident, saying “we are not floating in thin air. We have a base and we have struck roots.”
About today’s silent march where a staunch Leftist like Mr Mrinal Sen had participated he said. “I have grown in years and I have been in politics for a long time. I have seen a lot of breaking up and establishment of ties though I am in favour of setting up relations. I do not want to name anybody but I share a good rapport and this would continue in future too.” Although yesterday he had said that there were no funds, the chief minister today announced compensation of Rs 10,000 to those whose houses have been fully damaged and Rs 5,000 for partially damaged houses while another Rs 1,000 would be given for buying utensils and other essential commodities. Rs one crore has been allocated from the CM’s relief fund.
The home secretary said the government was convinced of the presence of Maoists in the area after three Sonachura locals, allegedly trained by them, were arrested from a fishing trawler near Sagar Islands. Mr Raj Kanojia, IG (law and order) denied that a police contingent at Tekhali Bridge had been pulled out to help armed CPI-M goons recapture Nandigram villages. “It’s unethical to make such an allegation,” he said.