Writing to Buddhadeb was Chidambaram’s duty: Pranab


Kolkata: Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said his cabinet colleague and Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s letters to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee were part of the former’s duty to write to states where the law and order situation deteriorates.

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“What is the controversy in this issue? Union home minister has given a letter and the chief minister should answer it. There can be no controversy on this,” Mukherjee told mediapersons here.

Chidambaram in a letter to Bhattacharjee last week said that complaints received by the central government “indicate that armed cadres of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) were deployed in a covert manner under the guise of village protection groups to guard against Naxal (Maoist) attacks”.

“There is evidence to show that ‘harmad’ (hired killers) camps are mostly located in CPI-M party offices and houses of local CPI-M cadres. It is a matter of grave concern that these cadres have been provided with firearms,” the home minister wrote.

Mukherjee said: “If law and order situation deteriorates in a state then it is the duty of the union home minister to request the chief minister to initiate proper steps. The union home minister has done his constitutional duty.”

“The duty of the chief minister is to respond to the letter and give answers to the questions raised by the union home minister,” Mukherjee said.

The finance minister, however, parried a query about the necessity of the use of the word ‘harmad’ in Chidambaram’s missive.

“Don’t ask me about this. Ask those who have used it and who are replying to it,” said Mukherjee.

Bhattacharjee Friday accepted Chidambaram’s invitation to visit New Delhi for talks on law and order situation in the state but said he was “unable to accept” the central minister’s attitude towards Left Front workers.

In another missive Thursday, Chidambaram described the killings of political workers as “alarming”, and said they pointed to a virtual collapse of law and order in parts of the state.