Dangerous liaison

Dangerous liaison

Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s rally in Lalgarh has strengthened longstanding suspicions of her collusion with the Maoists. Although the Trinamool has described the rally as ‘apolitical’ in which participants included activists and ordinary villagers, the role of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) in organising it is hard to ignore. Senior PCPA leaders were seen in the vicinity of the rally.

Many in the audience were said to be PCPA activists. Reports from the rally venue say that for all practical purposes this was a joint Trinamool-PCPA rally. The PCPA is believed to be behind the derailment of the Jnaneswari Express that resulted in a train collision that left over 150 people dead. It is widely regarded as a Maoist front organisation. Mamata is a cabinet minister and her party is a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government which has banned the Maoists and is currently engaged in operations against them and their front organisations. Her participation in the PCAPA rally was therefore irresponsible.

Some of the comments that Mamata made in her speech are quite at variance with the position of the government she is a part of. She has called for a halt to security operations in the Jangalmahal area. She also described the recent killing of Maoist spokesperson Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad as a murder. Differences between constituents of a coalition government are understandable but the charges she is levelling are serious. If she does harbour such serious policy differences with the UPA, she should step down. Else, she is guilty of running with the hare, even as she hunts with the hound. Her departure from the NDA stemmed from her opposing stance on various policy issues.

It has been apparent for some time now that Mamata is propping up the Maoists. She is determined to defeat the ruling Left Front in West Bengal and is drawing on Maoist support for the upcoming electoral battle. Mamata is playing a dangerous game. The massive crowd the PCPA was able to rustle up for her rally might have impressed voters.

But PCPA/Maoist backing will not be without a price. Is she considering meeting their demands if elected to power? Her short-sighted approach of using the Maoists in her fight against the Left may well boomerang on her. It is time the UPA broke its enigmatic silence and demanded more responsible behaviour from her.

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