October 14, 2009

Trinamool and Congress split by-poll seats 7:3

KOLKATA, October 14, 2009: The Trinamool Congress and Congress combine would contest the West Bengal assembly by-elections with a 7:3 seat-sharing ratio, union Finance Minister and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said Wednesday.“We’ve decided to field Congress candidates in three out of 10 assembly seats - Goalpokhar, Kalchini and Sujapur assembly constituencies. Trinamool Congress candidates will fight in the rest of the seats,” Mukherjee told a press conference held at the state Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office here.

“Our alliance is still on with the Trinamool Congress and we will contest the by-elections together in the state,” he said. Senior state Congress leaders Wednesday met here to discuss the political and organisational strategies the party would take in the coming days. The meeting, chaired by Mukherjee, was attended among others, by senior Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya, Deepa Dasmunsi and Shankar Singh.

Asked whether Left Front’s support to Congress-led Siliguri Municipal board had impacted relations with the Trinamool Congress, Mukherjee said: “It was a local matter and the entire thing was done at a local level.” “There’s no question of taking Left support.”

Joint Operation Against Maoists to Continue in WB

New Delhi, Oct 12, 2009: The joint anti-Maoist operations by Central paramilitary forces and police in West Bengal will continue with the Centre deciding to keep 17 companies of its forces stationed in the state.
"My only demand was that the 17 companies (about 1,700 personnel) continue to remain stationed in the state and carry out the joint operations with the state police. The Home Minister (P Chidambaram) has accepted it," West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told reporters here.
The decision came after Bhattacharjee met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today and Home Minister P Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee here yesterday. Bhattacharjee strongly recommended continuance of the joint operations in his state along with simultaneous action in Jharkhand, saying West Bengal Police would otherwise not be able to consolidate the gains made against Maoists in West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.
"Without simultaneous operations in Jharkhand, it will be difficult for the police to hold on to the gains," he said, adding that the security forces would soon start operations in areas bordering Jharkhand, where most of the Maoist infrastructure, training camps and strongholds are located. Bhattacharjee's meeting came days after the prime minister said talks could be held with the Left extremists only if they lay down arms. "This has been my consistent position too," he said.

Mamata's Arrest Demand a Case of 'Juvenile Disorder': Buddhadeb

New Delhi, Oct 12, 2009: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today described as "juvenile disorder" Mamata Banerjee reportedly demanding his arrest saying violence occurred in the state whenever he was away."I don't reply to such questions (on Banerjee's reported charge). It is a case of juvenile disorder," Bhattacharjee told reporters.
To a question on Trinamool Congress chief's opposition to the joint operations against Maoists, he said, "it is unfortunate. A Union minister should not speak such language, especially when the prime minister himself has called Maoist threat as the greatest challenge to internal security.""When the prime minister himself is making an observation, ministers should follow," he said, adding Manmohan Singh knew who was making what kind of statements."I have been trying to avoid comments on what the Railway Minister says. I don't take it seriously," he said.
Asked about his opinion on Trinamool slogan of 'Ma, Maati, Maanush', Bhattacharjee said, "don't you know it is the name of a famous 'jatra' (open air theatre)? It is not her (Mamata) creation."On Maoist leader Kishenji's statement that he had spoken to Bhattacharjee, the chief minister said, "he is a liar. He says I have had a telephonic talk with him. How can a liar be a leader of a party?"He reiterated his earlier position that talks with Maoists could be held only if they gave up violence.
On the Gorkhaland issue, Bhattacharjee said another round of tripartite talks would be held in December to discuss the issue.At a meeting between the Centre, the state government and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha in August, it was agreed that the proposal for creating a Hill Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution would be dropped.

Did Kobad Ghandy visit Lalgarh?

Hindustan Times
Kolkata, October 14, 2009
Did Kobad Ghandy, the UK-educated politburo member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), visit Lalgarh, the place in West Bengal that’s the hub of Naxalite disturbances? To get an answer, a team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials from the state is going to Delhi to interrogate the 63-year-old Maoist.

Lalgarh is located 160 km south-west of Kolkata.

The police sensed the possibility of Ghandy having a Lalgarh connection after they learnt from local people about “a very important person of the organisation” visiting the area.

According to the police, the Maoists used to hire a car for this “very important person”.

“The Maoists usually do not take the risk of hiring cars for members of their organisation. But they did it more than once in Lalgarh in March-April — before the Lok Sabha elections. This indicates that the visitor was neither familiar with the area, nor able to negotiate his way through forests,” a top official of the West Bengal police said.

“He was picked up from railway stations nearby like Salboni and Chandrakona Road. At that time many top leaders of CPI (Maoist) gathered in Lalgarh, taking advantage of there being no policemen,” he said.

“During interrogation by the Delhi police, Gandhy mentioned Lalgarh and gave some information about this tribal-dominated region. We cannot reveal these inputs now. We suspect that Gandhy had links with Kolkata,” the police officer said.

Ghandy was arrested in Delhi on September 20.

Though the Delhi police haven’t so far confirmed Gandhy’s visit to Lalgarh, they have sent some inputs about the place they obtained while interrogating him.

“Whether Gandhy visited Lalgarh or not isn’t a big issue. Even if he had, the visit wouldn’t have made much impact on the events there.
But from the way the movement was designed and engineered, it seemed that it received support from urban intellectuals, and that makes the involvement of ideologues like Ghandy likely,” a senior CID official told Hindustan Times.

Gandhy used to get support from urban intellectuals and organised foreign funding.

Immediately after his arrest in Delhi, Koteshwar Rao alias Kishanji, the 50-year-old Maoist leader in Lalgarh, demanded Ghandy’s release.

Before the joint forces of the Centre and the state started operations on June 18 in Lalgarh, the police could not enter the zone for about eight months.