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West Bengal: Red Front Ready to Talk to Trinamool

Snigdhendu Bhattacharya

A Maoist-backed organisation in Bengal has offered to discuss peace and development with the Trinamool Congress, which is part of the UPA at the Centre. But it wants to talk to Trinamool MP Kabir Suman only.

"We appealed to Suman because no one else in the Trinamool Congress seemed to be trustworthy," Asit Mahato of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) told HT on the phone.

The PCAPA spearheaded an agitation against an operation to flush out Maoists in the Lalgarh area of West Midnapore district in the latter half of last year.

The PCAPA's offer of talks is in response to Trinamool chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's call last month for a dialogue on peace and development if the Maoists give up arms. Banerjee had said her party would then convey the contents of dialogue to the central government.

The offer comes at a time when the West Bengal government is preparing for a renewed thrust in anti-Maoist operations following Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram's visit to Kolkata on Tuesday.,

Last month Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had nominated her party's trade union leader and former Maoist Purnendu Bose as her party's mediator but the PCAPA has plumped for Suman, who has fallen out with party leadership.

He distanced himself from his party leaders after releasing an album of eight songs supporting the Lalgarh movement and demanding the release of Chhatradhar Mahato, former spokesperson of the PCAPA now detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

"They (PCAPA) will have to come to the table. But they want to do it on their terms. We are watching the development," Bose said on Thursday.

Suman had earlier told HT he has no problem mediating if his party lets him.

(Hindustan Times, 12th February 2010)