Wednesday, May 13, 2009

‘Apology’ on CM lips

‘Apology’ on CM lips

Calcutta, May 11: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said he had “apologised” for the Nandigram police firing — the word of contrition slipping out for the first time in the last lap of the general election.

“About Nandigram, I apologised after the firing when I addressed a meeting close to Nandigram. I felt very bad about it, I genuinely felt bad. I have always admitted my mistakes — something that my political values demand,” the chief minister told a media conference at the Press Club today, after pausing for a few seconds.

Bhattacharjee had more than once described the Nandigram events that led to the firing as a mistake and expressed regret (“dukkha prakash”) but today he used the English word “apology”.

It was not clear whether the chief minister deliberately chose the word but the timing was not without significance. The statement came 48 hours before voting in the last phase that covers several south Bengal seats where minority voters have a considerable presence.

The violence in Nandigram, which houses many a Muslim family, is said to have compounded the alienation of the minority community from the CPM.

The chief minister today referred to what he termed an Opposition attempt to fan communal passions. “Never in Bengal have victims of political violence been identified as Muslim or Hindu nor minorities ever instigated against an elected government,” he said, arguing that Muslims were in a bad shape not in Bengal alone.

Referring to the loss of life in Nandigram, a sombre Bhattacharjee said: “Death of people in police firing is unacceptable to the tradition I belong to. It is against the values I have held in my entire political life.”

The chief minister repeated that he would not have sent the police to Nandigram had he known that there would be a bloodbath.

“I never dreamt that the police would be compelled to open fire. The Opposition was given an advance intimation of the police entry, not to take over land but to repair roads in Nandigram. We had sought their co-operation since the police were scheduled to stay for a day only,” Bhattacharjee said.