In the wake of the joint operation against the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal, the chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, will meet the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 11. On the same day, he will have a separate meeting with the Union home minister P Chidambaram on the joint operation against the extremists in the state. Both the meetings are scheduled to be held in the morning.
Last time around, the chief minister did not attend the chief ministers' meeting with the Union home minister. In the absence of the chief minister or any senior minister, the state was represented by bureaucrats which drew criticism from P Chidambaram. Bhattacharjee who is also a member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo, stayed away from the politburo meeting without offering any convincing reason. That gave rise to much speculation about his unhappiness with the workings of the present leadership. Finally, to dispel the rumours the party had to issue a statement through senior politburo member Sitaram Yechury.
The chief minister's meeting will be first after the arrest of Naxalite leader Chhatradhar Mahato and some other persons in the state. The police arrested two more persons in Kolkata on Tuesday and they have raided a printing press in the city where the Naxalites allegedly used to print their literature, on Wednesday. The state home secretary, Ardhendu Sen, has claimed that the police are on a hot trail of the Naxalite leader Kishenji. Chhatradhar and two others have been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
It seems the state government is not hesitant to apply the central Act to counter the extremists. But chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarty's utterances against the intellectuals sympathetic to the cause of the agitating people at Lalgarh has created a controversy and the administration had to tone down its comments.
The chief secretary had said that those who were keeping contacts with the extremists would be liable for prosecution under the UAPA. Mahasweta Devi, Saoli Mitra, Bibhas Chakraborty and others who had been to Lalgarh to express solidarity with the tribals, dared the administration to charge them with similar acts.
Mamata Banerjee has threatened that if the artists and intellectuals were touched by police and administration, it would have to face dire consequences.
The CPI-M politburo meeting is also scheduled on October 11. The politburo will discuss the draft document which will be placed before the central committee for its approval once it is cleared by the politburo. The central committee will meet on October 23-25. The recent electoral debacle forced the party to launch a rectification drive once the party realised that it had gathered many undesirable elements around it.
Prakash Karat, the CPI-M general secretary, has gone on record saying that many partymen had indulged in corrupt practices. Once the party central committee approves the rectification drive, the party might initiate a massive purge to weed out some of the powerful but corrupt people from its fold. Many senior leaders of CPI-M felt that many party functionaries amassed huge money.
Some have become bold enough to defy the party leadership and started serving their own interests. Now, it has become easy to dislodge them. For example, while nominating candidates for the recent general elections, there was widespread demand from within the party not to put up people like Laxman Seth as candidate.