New Delhi: In what could be seen as an attempt to end the speculation over his leadership, West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday to ensure that Central paramilitary forces fighting Naxals in his state will stay on.
Bhattacharjee asked both the Prime Minister and home minister P. Chidambaram, whom he met on Sunday evening, to keep security personnel in Lalgarh to provide stability. The area, 250km south-west of Kolkata, has seen massive operations by state and police forces to reclaim territory from the Naxals, who had declared it “liberated”. He also suggested that anti-Naxal operations begin soon in the areas bordering Jharkhand.
Red alert: West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
“I am happy that even the Prime Minister agreed with me that we can begin discussions with the Maoists only if they give up weapons,” said Bhattacharjee, who was in Delhi to attend the two-day Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo meeting.
The chief minister also launched an attack on arch rival Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress chief and railway minister. Reacting to Banerjee’s demand for his arrest saying violence had broken out in the state whenever he was away, Bhattacharjee said: “I have no time to discuss these issues. It’s a case of juvenile disorder.”
The chief minister also said that the CPM-led Left Front government had not given up industrialization of the state, including finalizing an alternative project for Singur, from where Tata Motors Ltd had withdrawn its Nano car project due to resistance from local farmers.
There had been speculation in the media as well as political circles that Bhattacharjee, who hadn’t attended two politburo meetings since the CPM’s poor performance in the general election, may step down from the post of chief minister