Unease in Cong over Mamata's posture

TMC chief 'soft' on Maoists, says AICC

Though the Congress strongly defended Banerjee on Wednesday against an intensified attack by the CPM, the party is believed to have conveyed its displeasure to the Trinamool Congress chief and advised her to make it sure that neither she nor her party could be anyway accused of being soft to the Maoists.

Several top leaders of the Congress are of the view that some of Banerjee’s remarks to the media during Tuesday’s hijacking of the Rajdhani Express embarrassed the UPA government.

Immediately after being briefed about the incident in West Midnapore district, Banerjee had reportedly told mediapersons here that the CPM activists had blocked the train to malign the image of Indian Railways and herself.

Later, when it had been confirmed that the activists and supporters of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) had detained the train demanding release of their leader Chhatradhar Mahato, the Railway Minister had gone to the extent of expressing her willingness to hold talks with them.

Besides, the Trinamool Congress has been persistently demanding for withdrawal of the joint operation by the central paramilitary forces, the police and other security forces of West Bengal government against the Maoists in the state saying it should be called off. The party has been alleging that the CPM was targeting its political rivals in the guise of the joint operation.

But the Trinamool stand on the joint operation against Maoists contradicts that of the UPA government. Home Minister P Chidambaram has been repeatedly stating that the Union Government would keep on providing all sorts of assistance to the state government in its fight against the ultra-leftist extremists.

“Her party is a constituent of the ruling coalition and it could not be seen soft towards the Maoists,” said a senior functionary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
Sources said that Banerjee had been informed about the growing unease within the Congress about her stand on the Maoists. “The message to the Trinamool Congress has been delivered by our top leadership,” said a member of the Congress Working Committee.

However, addressing a news-conference in the AICC headquarters, the Congress spokesman and Rajya Sabha member Abhishek Singhvi termed as “baseless and ridiculous” the CP M’s allegation that Banerjee and her party were giving “political patronage” to the Maoists.

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