Monday, June 22, 2009

Dial M for...
Puerile banter at a sensitive juncture

The Stateman News Service- Editorial

Whether the Trinamul Congress has links with the Maoists must await the report of the Intelligence agencies that the Government of India has commissioned. As a somewhat reluctant member of the national government, it must be acutely embarrassing for Mamata Banerjee to digest the inherent irony of the order. Hence the histrionics over Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s claim that the Trinamul has links with the Maoists. In the context of Nandigram, the party’s links with Left radicals and the Jamat Ulema-i-Bengal are well-documented. And by Ms Banerjee’s own admission, Chandrakanta Mahato was once a Trinamul member. That he has been expelled from the party is quite another story.

It is one thing for the Intelligence Bureau to start an investigation; quite another for the political class to engage in puerile banter at a juncture that is as sensitive as it is critical... with the Central paramilitary and the state police confronting the Maoists and tribals of Lalgarh. The Chief Minister has been rather uncharacteristically tactless in his sense of timing the charge of Maoist links.

To summon his words, he has “played into the opposition’s hands”. For a head of government who initially had reservations over the offensive in Lalgarh for fear of giving the opposition another handle, the Chief Minister has unwittingly provided grist to Mamata’s mill. Equally, the Trinamul leader confirms her characteristic irresponsibility by threatening to renew her standard option ~ streetfights ~ if Mr Bhattacharjee doesn’t withdraw the charge within 48 hours. Both the CM and the opposition leader must realise that this isn’t the juncture to resume shadow-boxing. Even as a passing show, it can only heighten tension and exacerbate the crisis.
In trying to counter the allegation, Mamata’s arguments verge on the absurd. The Chief Minister hasn’t gone against the law if he “has studied Maoist literature” or if “Maoist literature can be found in his house’’. The group is still not on the banned list. His reading habits and personal library are not relevant.

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