Mamata walks out of all-party meet

Kolkata May 24 | Updated: May 25 2007, 07:15am hrs
Efforts to garner political consensus over Nandigram and restore peace in the trouble prone district of East Medinipur was shattered with the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee walking out of an all-party meeting under the chairmanship of Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh.

The Trinamool chief stormed out of the meeting following sharp differences with CPI-M leader Subhas Chakraborty over terming the March 14 police firing as genocide.

Refusing to give up the initiative that has resulted in lowering the political temperature over Nandigram in West Bengal, the Forward Bloc leder Ashok Ghosh adjourned the meeting, asserting that another would be called soon.

The meeting had assumed immense political significance in view of recurring violence at Nandigram since January this year over land acquisition for a chemical hub. Residents had dug up roads to prevent the entry of the police after seven people were killed on January 7. Since then, police has not entered the troubled area.

The Trinamool agreed to participate in the meet after FB leader Ashok Ghosh was authorised to broker peace in consultation with all political parties. Mamata Banerjee, who entered the meeting venue, Mahajati Sadan, along with leader of the Opposition, Partha Chatterjee, at 3:15 pm walked out at 4:55 pm and headed for her Kalighat residence.

"There is no use in staying at the meeting," an angry Banerjee said. Without touching upon the differences between Banerjee and Chakraborty, Ghosh said, "We have decided to adjourn the meeting and call another one shortly, the venue and date of which will be fixed. "More meetings are necessary to restore peace at Nandigram," he said.

Earlier, the meeting began on a chaotic note with the BJP, which was not invited, staging a black flag demonstration. As participants at the meeting began arriving at the venue, BJP workers reached the spot and began demonstrating after blocking the arterial C R Avenue leading to chaos.

The Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee led an 8-member delegation, which included the leader of the Opposition Partha Chattopadhyay while the Congress was represented by PCC working president Pradip Bhattacharya and Somen Mitra.

The Congress and Trinamool Congress have demanded that the March 14 killings must be discussed and the guilty punished, while the CPI(M) has opposed that saying only a court could decide it.