No reason to suspect Trinamool-Maoist links: Pranab


Kolkata : Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday found no fault in Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s statement on the killing of top Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in an alleged fake gunfight and said there was no reason to suspect links between the Trinamool and the rebels.

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Mukherjee said the union home minister would look into Banerjee’s allegation that West Bengal’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was running armed camps in areas where the joint security forces were battling Maoist guerrillas in the state.

Strongly backing the central government’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partner, Mukherjee said: “She has made the allegation that CPI-M cadres were running armed camps. Those driven out from the area (earlier) are trying to re-organise themselves and come back and take advantage of the liberated zones.

“She (Banerjee) has brought this allegation before union home minister (P. Chidambaram). The home minister would look into it,” Mukherjee said during a media meet at the Calcutta Press Club.

On the charge – particularly from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties – that the Trinamool was hand-in-glove with the Maoist ultras, the number two man in the union cabinet said Banerjee has refuted every such allegation.

“She feels and a lot of others also feel there is no hard and fast rule that a political party cannot have a different opinion on an issue only because it is part of a coalition government.

“In a coalition government everybody abides by a declared policy. But in this issue if somebody thinks the Maoist problem can be solved through a dialogue she is free to express her opinion. But this is no reason for alleging that she has links with the Maoists,” Mukherjee said.

He asserted that there was nothing wrong in the railway minister’s statement on Azad at a public rally in Maoist-affected Lalgarh of West Midnapore district.

“We had detailed discussions on this where prime minister (Manmohan Singh), the home minister and Banerjee were present. She has explained her position. She has said if Azad was killed while he was trying to initiate talks with the centre then that should be explained.

“After that the Andhra Pradesh government has come out with a statement on the killing of Azad and they explained their position. So there is nothing wrong in the statement,” he said.

Banerjee had hinted that Azad was killed at a fake shootout.

The government has maintained that he was gunned down at Adiladad of Andhra Pradesh July 2. Banerjee’s comments, in complete variance with the official line, had led to a storm with opposition parties BJP and the CPI-M coming hammer and tongs at her.

Asked about the recurrent political clashes in the state, Mukherjee said: “Such clashes are always unfortunate. And there is no room for violence in the country.”