Mamatas remarks on Maoists draw Opposition fire

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 12 2010, 04:42am hrs
Railway minister Mamata Banerjees alleged hobnobbing with Maoists at a rally in Lalgarh rocked Parliament on Tuesday with the BJP and Left joining hands to target the Trinamool Congress and the Centre.

Why is the Prime Minister silent Will the Centre continue operations against Maoists after the railway ministers statement that Operation Greenhunt will be stopped, BJP deputy leader Gopinath Munde said in Lok Sabha.

Saying it was shameful that Banerjee made common cause with the extremists, Munde referred to her statement questioning the encounter death of Maoist leader Azad and calling it murder. Will the Centre conduct a CBI probe into the death which has been questioned Munde asked.

CPMs Bansa Gopal Chowdhury also accused the Trinamool Congress of being hand-in-glove with the Maoists and asked the Centre to explain the presence of extremists in the Lalgarh rally.

Embarrassed by the Opposition onslaught, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha that the government would ascertain the position from the railway minister before saying anything.

In Rajya Sabha, leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley led the attack on the government, saying what we find today is that the principle of collective responsibility is being breached and there is a disagreement on the policy of the government towards Maoists. He said the Prime Minister, on several occasions, had described the Maoists as the single-largest threat to internal security and all ministers were expected to follow the government policy as collective responsibility.

Noting that the Prime Minister has been silent on various issues like Kashmir and the Commonwealth Games, Jaitley said: Silence at times can be a weapon of convenience, but conspiracy of silence cannot be allowed.

Making a strong defence of his chief, Trinamool Congress leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay said Banerjee took the message of peace and harmony to the rally and added that she was totally opposed to violence and killings.

All political parties, including the government, should extend support to Banerjee so that the Maoist problem can be solved. She has given a new line, which can resolve the Naxal problem, he said. Justifying Banerjees visit to the Maoist-affected Lalgarh, he said home minister P Chidambaram too had visited the place last month and now the railway minister had gone there.