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Mamata lashes out at centre
Published on 9 Jan. 2010 11:12 PM IST
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Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Saturday lashed out at the union home ministry, saying it lacked seriousness in tackling the Maoist menace in West Bengal. She also accused the central government of giving “oxygen” to the state’s ruling communists by deploying joint security forces in Lalgarh. A day after the Maoists shot dead two Trinamool supporters in Muriboni village of West Midnapore district, Banerjee slammed the rebels giving them an “ultimatum” to “behave properly”. She also called upon the masses in the three western districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia to stand up to the Left wing ultras. In a stinging attack on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, of which the Trinamool is the second largest partner, Banerjee said that her party henceforth would not expect “anything from anybody. We will fight out own battles”. “The union home ministry is not at all serious about tackling the Maoist menace in West Bengal. The central government has facilitated the joint forces’ operation for providing oxygen to the CPI-M, which is desperate to regain its lost political ground,” Banrjee said during a press conference at her Kalighat residence in South Kolkata. “The Trinamool Congress demands immediate army action in Lalgarh and adjoining areas,” she said. The joint forces comprising central paramilitary troopers and state armed police have been deployed in the Lalgarh belt of West Midnapore district since June 18 after the Left wing ultras created a virtual free zone in the area by torching police camps and killing political opponents. Asked whether she has raised her grievances on the issue with the Congress leaders, Banerjee said: “I have said so many times. I have informed the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) and union home minister (P. Chidambaram) repeatedly.” Banerjee also pointed out that the UPA did not have any coordination committee of the alliance now. To a query whether he had spoken to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the matter, she said: “She is not in the government. Why should I disturb her?” Launching a virulent assault on the Maoists, who are active in the three western districts, Banerjee termed them as “most corrupt”. They kill people and then leave behind chits saying they have punished the corrupt. But they are themselves most corrupt”. “And who are they to give out such punishments? There is law, administration, courts and police. We will rip off their masks. They are actually cowards,” said a fuming Banerjee. Talking tough, the railway minister said: “We are not like the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that they will murder us and we will bear it calmly. We will isolate them from the masses. I am giving these terrorists an ultimatum to either behave properly or face the people’s wrath. Banerjee also came down heavily on the CPI-M for misusing the Lalgarh “security operation” to regain lost ground. Alleging collusion between the CPI-M and the Maoists, she said: “They are Marxists in the morning and Maoists in the evening. They have joined hands to kill Trinamool supporters and innocent civilians.” She claimed that seven of her party supporters have been killed in the past five days.

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