March 26, 2009


KOLKATA(INN): Motoring down the Barrackpore expressway this morning (25 March 2009), two fascinating scenes drew our attention. First, at various places on the two sides of the broad avenue, we found Trinamuli and Pradesh Congress election banners, graffiti, and posters overwhelming the side of all sorts of government buildings as well as of other structures including CPI(M) election offices!!.

This is in clear violation of the concerned rules read with the EC regulations in this regard. Nevertheless, who cares anyway, in a parliamentary seat (15-Barrackpore) where the popularity of the hammer-and-sickle is legendary for decades together now, and the candidate himself is a veteran TU leader-- and the new-found Trinamuli candidate, a fresh import from the posh environs of the capital, is perhaps a sure loser.

The second sight that almost forced our attention was a curious one, a very curious one, indeed, and it showed the bad taste that the Trinamulis have grown up with, to mature and fructify, come the polls. We saw vast-sized, garishly coloured photos of Mamata Banerjee and the state governor together in gigantic hoardings all across the township of Bhatpara. We would not know if any of the two featured together had registered their protest with anybody, but the Bengal CPI (M) has drawn the urgent attention of the full bench of the EC to the crass violation of norms, electoral or otherwise perpetrated here.

This brings us nicely to the vying with the Trinamulis, for overturning the election code, by the Pradesh Congress. We have received reports earlier that the morning of 25 March saw the two brothers of the late A. B. A. Ghani Khan Chaudhuri descending on the township of Maldah with a roaring-at-full-throttle fleet of 50-odd massed motorbikes—each carrying the Congress election symbol. Noise pollution, what do you mean? However, more is involved here than meets the ears.

As the Bengal CPI(M) has not lost time in writing to the ECI, this demonstration of massed engine horsepower also violates the electoral regulation that says that such convoys must prominently display on their respective windshields the permit for such a motorcade (in this case, what, a motorbicade?) to be organised, and it contravenes the other concerned rule that lays down that any large convoy of motorised vehicles taking part in an election campaign, must be broken up in small groups with at least 200 metres worth of distance between the groups. On both counts, the Pradesh Congress could not care less.

Then again, once the Trinamul Congress takes the plunge in brushing election rules brusquely aside can the ‘mothership’ called the Pradesh Congress wallow silent in obeisance of forms and norms, electoral or otherwise.


KOLKATA: The Bengal CPI (M) has in latter written on 24 March 2009 pointed out the one-sidedness of pre-election coverage of political activities in the state by the Kolkata station of the All-India Radio (AIR). In the letter, written by the secretary of the Bengal unit of the CPI (M) and signed on his behalf by Party CCM Benoy Konar (Biman Basu is away on election campaign in central Bengal), the Bengal CPI (M) points out that the morning news bulletin of the AIR of 24 March 2009 would not carry the report of the media conference of CPI (M) PBM and the LF government’s industries minister Nirupam Sen where he clarified certain issues on the shifting of the small car project from Singur in Hooghly, to Sanand in Gujarat and to Panthnagar in Uttarakhand.

The Kolkata AIR bulletin in reference, however, carried other political news concerning various other political parties and alliances. The Bengal CPI (M) had already pointed to the biased nature of election coverage-related broadcasting / telecasting of the AIR and the Doordarshan when it had met in delegation the full bench of the Election Commission at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata back on 19 March. Apparently, the EC did not think it proper to act on it and advise the state-run media to be as impartial as possible in covering news items. The Bengal CPI (M) hopes that the EC would do so in the days to come.(INN)


KOLKATA(INN): LF-supported Forward Bloc candidate for Barasat in north 24 Parganas and noted educationist Sudin Chattopadhyay was taken aback when he saw a rush of hooligans onto the stage. The occasion (on 18 March) was a ‘live’ TV show put up at Barasat where the organisers / TV channel owners wanted Prof Chattopadhyay to enter into a debate with the Trinamul candidate from the Barasat seat.

As the debate progressed it was clear that Prof Chattopadhyay was gradually gaining an upper hand despite his low-key, polite, and soft style of speaking vis-à-vis the Mamata banerjee-like aggression and fire-and-brimstone kind of approach by his woman rival candidate who has had to swallow defeats every time she had run for the polls, be it the assembly or the Lok Sabha. She had once run against Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee from Jadavpur and had her ego bruised by the thumping margin of the former’s win. Her frustration came through rather easily this time around, if in a menacing manner, as Prof Chattopadhyay was soon to find out.

The organisers had managed to stash away a large ‘cache’ of drunken Trinamul Congress supporters around the open air space from where the show was telecast. Each round of question-and-answer session saw the Trinamuli candidate get the worse of the exchanges in terms of facts as well as argumentation. She kept becoming angrier as the FB candidate never strayed off the cool and the laid-back attitude he is quite well-known for, apart from his great debating skill.

The last straw was reached when the Trinamul candidate started to hurl abuses on the professor, and the Trinamuli goons, perhaps sensing that that was the signal, came rushing up the stage, swept past a sniggering presenter, and jostled with Sudin Chattopadhyay, beating him up with fists and worse.

The latter fell down bleeding and had to be removed to hospital after the local people had to intervene and stop the hooliganism. In hospital, the doctors realised that professor Chattopadhyay had suffered from at least one broken rib plus innumerable bruises on his face and body, and must be rested for some days before venturing out on the campaign trail. The Trinamulis had better come to grips with the fact that this show of terrorism would lose and not win them votes in a seat where the LF and the FB had always prevailed, whoever the rival has been.


KOLKATA(INN): Two serious charges have been levelled against the Election Commission of India (ECI) by the CPI (M). One deals with the time allotted to the different political parties with whom the ECI interacted at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on 19 March. The second is concerned with the order in which the political parties were called up for the tête-à-têtes.

The first concerned the order in which the political parties were called up. The ECI chose ostensibly an alphabetical order to call up the leaders of the different, national, and state, parties present on the day. They first called upon the AIFB. To the surprise of everyone, the Trinamul Congress that goes by the grand name of All-India Trinamul Congress in the official ECI documents was not called thereafter. The Trinamuli chiefs were in fact called up at the end the session.

Thus by the time the Trinamulis trooped in the ECI was aware of the say-so of all the Left parties who had duly been called in alphabetical order. In a protest letter, Biman Basu has said that the ECI should follow a single norm. Either it must prefer the alphabetical order, or it should go by the national / state status of the concerned parties. It chose to follow both, one set of norms for the Trinamulis and another set for the rest of the parties including the new-found Trinamuli political dost, the Pradesh Congress.

Second, the political parties were each allocated time slots of ten minutes each for interaction with the ECI, and this included the Pradesh Congress. However, it was found that the Trinamulis were allowed nearly an hour’s worth of time when they went to meet the ECI. The CPI (M) has pointed this pout in a letter to the ECI and has asked for clarification. We are left wondering what the discussion was going on about. The Trinamuli chieftains would not speak to the media when they finally came out, smiles pasted on their visages.

At the meeting, in the ten minutes worth of time the CPI (M) leaders led by Party CCM Madan Ghosh pointed to the following emergent issues, among others, that needed redresssal and early:

1.A situation of terror is being built up in the state with one after another leading CPI (M) workers being heinously murdered
2.The fundamentalists are on the prowl in a markedly intense manner
3.The left sectarians are active in a violent way in the red clay districts and are making it impossible for the CPI (M) to carry out election campaign
4.Opposition candidates are flouting the election code in a variety of manners including coming up with what amounted to graft, and include various infrastructural assurances
5.Walls of government and quasi-governments were being written on with graffiti by the opposition
6.The two official media of Akashvani and Doordarshan were patently biased against the CPI (M) and for the parties of the ruling classes

The CPI (M) asked the ECI to seal the interstate and the international border around Bengal during the poll period. They also asked the ECI to look into instances where the number of voters has suddenly increased, out of expectation.
By B. Prasant


KOLKATA: The Lok Sabha elections approach. The opposition is panic struck. The rank of the panic struck includes reactionary forces here and abroad. Thus, we are at the receiving end of a wide array of conspiracies, some foolishly, overtly executed, and these are but few. The water runs dangerously deep in most instances of the orchestrated, concentrated, planned, scheming moves against the Left Front and the CPI (M).

Shall we begin with the obvious? Numerous groups of men and women are on the move across the villages and towns, the hamlets and the urban centres in Bengal even as you read this. They include women in widows’ weeds, young boys, and girls, with a gang of toughs hanging back.

The groups approach the households during the noon hour when the menfolk have gone out to earn their livelihood. They get hold of the women. They tell them horror stories of ‘atrocities perpetrated on us at Nandigram.’ Sometimes, the locale is a Singur hamlet. The refrain is the same. “Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has a yen for land. He will take away your agricultural plot and your homestead land. Buddhadeb represents the philosophy of the CPI (M) to ‘rob the poor.’ Beware of him, and of them. Chance comes to you every five years only. Take a plunge, and vote for change.”

Mostly, these ploys backfire. Curious women ask them of the details and for these bearers of the untruth the devil lie in the details. They cannot name the villages they inhabit. They will not give out their names, even names of their family members. They are then turned out, politely by the householders. The toughs slither closer, and utter whispered threats, and then they disappear in the waiting car or auto-rickshaw, their always engines awhirr as they wait.

That was the obvious. The conspiracy is professionally organised elsewhere. The target is the minority communities, or one minority community, the largest of them in Bengal, a community that has always been by the side of the Left Front and the CPI (M). Old men yet tell us with more than a touch of pride how most of the pioneering dozen of the founders’ brigade of the CPI had been Muslims! They recall the political-ideological-organisational contributions of such comrades as Kakababu (Muzaffar Ahmad), Abdul Halim, Abdullah Rasul, and Shahidullah in Bengal.

We find the imam of the Bada Masjid, up to little good-- for anybody. Shahi Imam of Bengal, who is the Mufti-e Azam, as well as the chief Mufti and Quazi of the state government of Bengal also being the Dar-ul Ifta and Quaza of Bengal per se, issues a press release of 21 March 2009, on a piece of paper that carries the official government emblem in the form of the Ashoka Pillar (Ashoka Stambha), as used in government documents, on the top left side of the page.

In that release, he falsely berates the present state administration for its ‘anti-Muslim’ frame of mind, and calls upon all ‘sane citizens,’ to ‘go ahead and make a change,’ while casting their votes. We find this not merely a perversion of facts but a dangerous communal approach that is also grossly inflammatory in character. Most Muslims would ignore the appeal. Nevertheless, the intent, or rather the severe malignancy of the exercise is sure to make happy and rock with pure pleasure, Mamata Banerjee, men, and women of her ilk, and, who knows, perhaps also the chieftains of their new-courted ally, the Pradesh Congress, and their patrons, here and abroad.

After all, even as a Bengali-speaking ambassador of the US to India is steps in, set to ‘begin the beguine’ for the imperialists from Delhi, the man on the spot of the US of A in Kolkata has chosen the cosy, air-conditioned, five-star confines of a central Kolkata hotel to meet more-than-once a chosen few Muslim leaders who are both familiar and comfortable with the idioms of fundamentalism and of anti-Communism. The agenda, we can assume, is not either religion or peace.

The Left Front has stepped up its election campaign. Smaller meetings are stressed on—baithaks, as well as pally or neighbourhood meetings, smaller gatherings at rural haats and urban bazaars are concentrated upon, discussions are opened to the masses on the issues of the day, the candidates march along the routes within their constituencies, always stopping by for a bit of political adda, and a glass or two of cool water, maybe an earthen pot or three of black tea – and while bigger rallies are held fewer in number, preference is gradually being allocated to intimate, personal, one-to-one, house-to-house contact with the masses.

The Left Front itself marches on in solidarity with the people, as one. Biman Basu, state secretary of the CPI (M) and the Bengal LF chairman has assured the people that the LF is united as ever, and that ‘we are fighting for all 42 seats, not one less.’ Wild predictions shall meet a wilder fate we are assured by the elderly and the young alike. In the meanwhile, Biman Basu rushes off to big and small rallies at several places in south Bengal having arrived at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan a few hours earlier from a lengthy trip to north and central Bengal.

Centre approves double-lane highway in West Bengal

GANGTOK: An alternative double-lane highway via Chalsa in West Bengal to Menla, near Nathu La, has been approved by the Centre. The cost of construction for the 176-km stretch will be around Rs 400 crore. The West Bengal forest department has been asked to give clearance soon so that the project starts in 2009-10 and ends by 2011-12. The road is very important for defence movement up to the Indo-China border. It will also benefit the full-fledged Indo-China border trade via Nathu La which is expected to start by 2013-14.
The new road would be in addition to the existing one of Chalsa to Jaldhaka-Thode-Rachela-Aritar-Rhenock-Rorathang-Rangpo-Singtam to Ranipool to connect the existing NH 31A. NH 31A, from Sevoke to Gangtok BRO, spotted 79 points which were mostly vulnerable landslide zones. Out of that, 59 have been sanctioned and work will start by April. Completion is due by October, said Brigadier RK Patyal, chief engineer, BRO Project Swastik. For this Rs 47 crore has been sanctioned. Brig Patyal added that most of the hydropower developers in Sikkim and West Bengal, including NHPC, Gati Infrastructure, Teesta Urja, have agreed to bear the cost for strengthening roads and bridges on their route to Siliguri.

Catch-22 for Trinamool, Cong in mixed-up doubles

Kolkata: Congress turncoats Somen Mitra and Sudip Bandopadhyay, now in fray on Trinamool tickets, face ire of their former and current party workers Somen Mitra and Sudip Bandopadhyay, both state Congress stalwarts who switched sides to join the Trinamool just before the Lok Sabha election dates were announced, are faced with a double whammy.

As if taking on CPI(M) heavyweights were not enough, the two have to grapple with an undercurrent of opposition from sections of party workers of both the Congress and the Trinamool, which have since joined hands. Mitra, a former state Congress chief, is contesting from Diamond Harbour while Bandopadhyay is in the fray for Kolkata North, both on Trinamool tickets.

Despite an alliance between the Congress and Trinamool, Congress workers are reluctant to work for a leader who abandoned them just over a month ago and the Trinamool cadres are yet to accept their new leaders. Both Mitra and Bandopadhyay were Congress MLAs and were expelled from the party, before being dismissed from the state Assembly by the Speaker after they left the Congress. Mitra is contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time.

“Though we have been asked to campaign for Trinamool candidates, it is difficult to ask and explain to a Congress worker to join a rally or campaign for a leader who had just abandoned them for an election ticket,” said Shibaji Singha Roy, general secretary of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee.

“Just the other day, we demanded the expulsion of the two leaders from our party and wanted them barred from the state Assembly. Now we have to campaign for them. Our workers are asking if the common voter will take us with our two-faced attitude. Yet, we are trying to make our workers understand,” Roy added.

Mitra and Bandopadhyay, however, are high on optimism. “I was always with the people of North Kolkata. As an MP, as an MLA, I have served North Kolkata. It is clear in people’s mind as to why I left the Congress. A large section of Congress and Trinamool workers is with me. I am sure of victory,” Bandopadhyay said.

Mitra pinned his hopes on grassroots workers. “People know why I left the Congress and floated my own party, Progressive Indira Congress. The grassroots workers know me and respect me,” he said. Mitra has been able to rope in Badal Bhattacharjee, his close associate during his Congress days, as his election agent to attract more Congress workers to join his campaign.

In Diamond Harbour, Mitra is pitted against CPI(M) strongman and sitting MP Samik Lahiry, who defeated Trinamool candidate Sougata Roy by a margin of 1,53,784 votes. Lahiry got about 51.5 per cent of votes, whereas Roy secured 33.13 per cent. Daulat Ali Sheikh of the Congress got about 11 per cent of the total votes.

Bandopadhyay is pitted against CPI(M) heavyweight Mahammad Salim in Kolkata North, which was formed after delimitation adding areas of erstwhile Kolkata North East and North West constituencies, both of whom were won by the Left party.

In 2004, Salim had defeated his nearest rival, Trinamool’s Ajit Panja, by 73,780 votes in Kolkata North East. In Kolkata North West, Sudhansu Sil of CPI(M) had defeated his nearest rival Subrata Mukherjee of the Trinamool by 43,004 votes.

The CPI(M) too is banking on the “flip-flop” factor against the two candidates. “My opponent was first in the Congress, then changed to the Trinamool, and now is back again in the Congress fold. He has flip-flopped so many times that even voters have lost count. I do not think people will vote for such a candidate,” Salim said.

CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu, 94, is a star in cyberspace

Kolkata: The former West Bengal chief minister outperforms his younger Left colleagues in cyberspace. Jyoti Basu's frail health does not permit him to take part in raucous rallies and public meetings. Yet, of all his Communist colleagues, this spare nonagenarian, who was chief minister of West Bengal from 1977 to 2000, is the biggest crowd puller -- even among cyber communists.
Basu's recently recorded appeal to party cadres and voters for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections was uploaded on the party's special election website through YouTube on March 17.Till Wednesday morning, 2,309 viewers accessed Basu's video on YouTube. The video also received five stars -- the highest rating given to a YouTube video.Although Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Prakash Karat, at 60, is closer to the younger generation than Basu, his recent video does not record so many hits. Karat's opening remarks during the release of the party's manifesto on March 17 were uploaded on YouTube, but had received just 26 hits till Wednesday and no rating.
The full version of Karat's video, along with politburo member Sitaram Yechury's [Images] sermon on the economic crisis, has been uploaded on the party's website through Google video. Since Google doesn't provide details about the number of "hits" for its videos, the popularity of these versions cannot be established.A video of Karat's speech on the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, however, remains the most popular contribution of a Left leader on YouTube, drawing 7,089 views till Wednesday morning. But this was posted more than a year ago.Some of the CPI(M)'s cyber-savvy workers or fans regularly upload videos of the party's top leaders on the Net. The party also provides video speeches on important issues in its special poll website --
Apart from Basu, Karat and Yechury, two other politburo members -- Brinda Karat and Md Amin -- have also found space on the party's internet initiative to woo voters. Brinda Karat talks about food security and high prices and Md Amin laments over the fate of the working class under the United Progressive Alliance. Basu no longer holds an official position in the party, the largest of the four Left parties in the current Lok Sabha, but is a "special invitee" to the politburo. Yet, even as leaders like Prakash Karat, Yechury, current West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Brinda Karat and Pinarayi Vijayan share the maximum burden of the main campaign in different parts of the country, Basu remains a pivotal character in the party's run-up to the polls.
Other top leaders may provide loads of points, counter-points, sharp political attacks and ideological dimensions to politics in the Lok Sabha election campaign, but no one can match the 94-year old Jyotibabu in providing the much-needed emotional stimulus to its cadres and his trade-mark incomplete sentences.Party insiders fondly recall an incident during the 2004 elections. After the BJP managed to win the Dumdum Lok Sabha seat (where Basu himself was a voter) in 1999, sending shockwaves through the CPI(M), Basu led the mission to win back the Left bastion in 2004.
Since the party had suffered the loss due to severe in-fighting, Basu addressed a joint meeting of the rival factions and said, "I may not live till 2009. Before I die, I wish to see Dumdum back in the hands of our party." The appeal did the magic and the rivals worked together to ensure a massive victory of the CPI(M) from that seat in the 2004 election.The party, which generally avoids eulogising personalities, has posted Basu's picture on the masthead of its election site. "Jyoti Basu is the only member of our first politburo of 1964 who is still alive. He has been hailed as the living legend of the party.
So, there's nothing wrong if we display his photo on our site," Yechury said at the launch of the website last week.And for Jyoti Basu, confined to Indira Bhawan, Kolkata, history has run a full circle. The man who once spearheaded the infamous anti-computerisation movement in the state, a position he subsequently reversed, is now the biggest hit in the virtual communist world on the web.
Source: Business Standard

Sad day for people of West Bengal: Nirupam Sen

Kolkata, 23rd March: The commercial launch of Nano from Mumbai rather than Singur in West Bengal was a sad day for the people of the State, West Bengal Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirupam Sen said. Addressing a press meet at the party office here on Monday, he hoped that the people of West Bengal would definitely respond against the ‘destructive politics’ practised in Singur and which culminated in the ouster of the project from the State.

“Nowhere in India, this type of destructive politics is played,” he said. The momentum that the proposed project had imparted to the State’s industrialisation drive was dampened by the exit, he said. To a question, he said it was unfortunate that a national party had tied up with such a political party. He said there was a need to analyse how the people of West Bengal benefited either by the agitation or the subsequent exit of the small car project. “An evaluation is necessary.”

Responding to another question on the main Opposition leader’s indifference to the exit of the Nano project from the State, Mr. Sen said this clearly showed the dichotomy between the slogans now being raised by that party in favour of development in the State and the stark realities. “The role of the Opposition party and some of its allies during that agitation was dangerous as it was unfortunate,” he said.

Mr. Sen rued that the dreams of the State’s youth were shattered, adding that the irresponsible action of the political party had tarnished the State’s image before the world. Answering a question on land acquisition in Singur, he refuted the suggestion that the Land Acquisition Act was applied mindlessly, saying that everything was done in a transparent manner. “Has anyone applied the RTI Act to find out what concessions the Gujarat government offered to locate the Nano project in the State?” he asked.

He said the Tatas had said they would take between 10 and 12 months to dismantle their structures at Singur. He also hoped that future investment by the Tatas in the State would not be hampered.

Singur mourns as Nano rolls out from Mumbai

Singur (West Bengal),22nd March : The abandoned factory stands as a silent reminder of the frenzied activity and the air of expectancy one saw here less than a year ago. The prevailing feeling now is of loss and sadness as the Nano prepares to roll out far away in Mumbai Monday.

A big burden for Tata
The cluster of buildings that was once designed to roll out the revolutionary little Nano is now enveloped in darkness - symbolic of the state of mind of those in this rural hamlet who bemoan the loss of the prized project to Sanand in Gujarat.

Facts about Nano
From the rickshaw puller at the local Mankundu railway station to the tea stall owner in the vicinity of the factory, the general feeling is of dejection. But the sharp political polarisation in the area ensures that there are quite a few with a different viewpoint too.

The Nano team
On Oct 3 last year, global auto major Tata Motors announced that it had scrapped its plans to bring out the world's cheapest car from the facility at Singur, 40 km from state capital Kolkata. The plant was shifted to Sanand. "I used to earn Rs.200 daily ferrying the Tata Motors employees from the railway station to the factory gate after construction of the plant started... But now, with the project scrapped here, my earnings have become less than half," said Rasik Dey, a rickshaw puller.

Dibakar Das, a farmer who gave five acres for the Nano project in Hooghly district, told IANS: "It is really sad that the project didn't come up over here." "The project could have changed the financial condition of Singur, but the destructive protests by the opposition did not allow the project to take place." The Hooghly district area had turned into a battleground for about two and a half years since May 2006 after the state government announced the Tata Nano project.
A section of farmers, led by main opposition force Trinamool Congress, carried out a sustained agitation demanding return of 400 acres of the acquired 997.11 acres to farmers who had been unwilling to give land by relocating the ancillary units. But the Tatas, who spent Rs 1500 crore in Singur for the project, were against relocating the auto-component units in the integrated project, saying it would increase the production cost of the car priced at only Rs.100,000.

"It's very unfortunate that the project is not happening over here. They (opposition parties) assaulted them (Tata Motors engineers) and forced them to leave the state," Balai Sabui, a Communist Party of India-Marxist leader in Singur, told IANS. "The factory was almost complete. But the opposition made them abandon the project. It would have helped in the economic development of the state," Sabui said.

He rued that the hopes of the local youth were crushed, as the project had the potential to generate huge employment. Apart from the mother plant, the project was scheduled to house 56 auto-components companies. But the Trinamool Congress does not seem to be missing the little Nano. "This is just like any other commercial product launch for us," Sougata Roy, Trinamool Congress leader told IANS.

Asked whether the party feels bad that the project, which could have been a showpiece for the state, had to be shifted elsewhere, he said: "We would not have been happy had the project come up in the state at the cost of the tears of so many people."

If Bush is Coca Cola, Obama Pepsi: Buddha

SONARPUR(South 24 Parganas), 21st March: Senior CPI(M) leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Saturday flayed Congress for its “over dependence” on the USA and said there was no difference between former US President George W Bush and the incumbent Barack Obama in their “imperialistic ambition” in India.“Bush and Obama are like two brands of similar soft drinks. If Bush is ‘Coca Cola´, Obama ‘Pepsi´,” Bhattacharjee told an election rally in Sonarpur.

The left had withdrawn support to the UPA on this particular issue and would continue to do so in future, he said. Only the Third Front could save India from the clutches of the “aggressive Americans”, he said. He further said the Third Front had no worry over its prime ministerial candidate. The matter could be resolved well after the elections. “Those making an issue out of it, are ,in fact, afraid of the strong anti-US stand of the Third Front,” he said.

Left Front alleges US ‘interference’ in India’s internal affairs

Kolkata, March 21: Chairman of West Bengal’s ruling Left Front Biman Basu Saturday alleged that the US was “interfering” in India’s internal affairs by organising dialogues with sections of the country’s minority communities. However, a US diplomat in the city denied any such meetings.

“We came to know that a top US official recently met a section of Muslim and Christian leaders at a central Kolkata hotel and made comments on the coming general elections also. He cannot do that. If they need to talk to a section of people, they should have called them at the US consulate,” Basu told a press conference here. “People of West Bengal should be more careful of any form of conspiracy which is being fabricated against the communists in the state,” Basu said, declining to divulge any further details about the meeting held by the US official.

“We, on behalf of the party, have already sought information about the meeting from the state government,” he said. The US Consulate in Kolkata, however, denied the report of any secret meeting held by any US official here.“We do have a bilateral relationship with India but we do not interfere in India’s internal political affairs. The claim by Mr. Biman Basu is completely baseless as we did not organise any secret meeting with minority people here,” American Center director Douglas Kelly told IANS.

Basu also attacked the central government for the recent meeting between CIA chief Leon Panetta and Home Minister P. Chidambaram and said he sensed a “deep rooted conspiracy” against the communists in the state, just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Asked whether he felt that the CIA was trying to dislodge the Left Front government in West Bengal, he said: “I won’t say that now. But the way state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is being criticised, it shows the CIA model is being followed here also.”

The Left Front chairman also claimed that some people were carrying a “misinformation” campaign against the West Bengal government. “Women, in the guise of widows affected by the Nandigram land issue, are visiting different districts and claiming that if people voted for the Left Front in the coming Lok Sabha poll, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led Left Front government would take away all their land,” he said.