Clouds remain over all-party meeting on Nandigram

Kolkata, May 22 | Updated: May 23 2007, 05:30am hrs
Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh was yet to get a confirmation from the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress about the attendance of their top leaders at the all-party meeting to discuss Nandigram that was finally scheduled for May 24.

With 48 hours to go, Left Front chairman and CPI(M) state chief Biman Bose said he would be taking the evening flight to Delhi on May 24 to attend the two-day politburo meeting from the next day. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will also be leaving for Delhi at the same time.

With the meeting set for 3pm at Mahajati Sadan, the two key CPI(M) leaders will not be present if they take an evening flight.

Former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, who continues to be a politburo member, will be staying back here --- but he is unwell so cannot attend the all-party meeting.

That left Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who, backed by Left Front partners opposed to the CPI(M), had been insisting on an all-party meeting on Nandigram. Mamata was learnt to have said that it would be pointless to attend the all-party meeting if the key figures in the CPI(M) stay away.

The all-party meeting had originally been scheduled for May 26 after much jockeying by the various parties. When Biman Bose said he would be in Delhi on that day for the politburo meeting, Ashok Ghosh discussed the issue with Mamata and the fresh date of May 24 was set. The Left Front chairman cleared this date. CPI(M) sources said Ashok Ghosh could very well convene an all-party meeting, but it was up to each party to decide who would attend it on its behalf.

Privately, Biman Bose is learnt to have told his party that it would be absurd for the Left Front chairman to represent a single party at the meeting, apart from the fact that the meeting itself is being convened by a Front partner who reports to the chairman. "Biman Bose and Ashok Ghosh are still fighting a war of nerves," said a party source.

Bloc sources said Ghosh spent most of Tuesday talking on the phone to Biman Bose, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Jyoti Basu and Mamata Banerjee. In the evening, Ghosh told reporters that he had requested Biman Bose to take the night flight to Delhi instead of the evening one.

"I have requested comrade Biman Bose to attend the meeting," Ghosh said. "If he changes the flight, he can attend it." Ghosh said Mamata had informed him that she would like to bring along some representatives of the farm front that she has created to oppose farmland acquisition for industry.

"This indicates that she will attend the meeting personally, but I don't know what she will finally do," the octogenarian Bloc leader said.