This is Mr. Chidambaram's second visit to the State to discuss the Maoist problem. He had called a meeting of the Chief Ministers of all four eastern States, racked by Maoist activities, on Feb. 9
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram held a one-to-one meeting at the Secretariat here for nearly 30 minutes on Saturday.
Officials from the Union Home Ministry and their counterparts in the State including the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, who were waiting in an adjoining room, were called in for a 10-minute session with Mr. Bhattcharjee and Mr. Chidambaram. Mr. Chidambaram declined to speak to the press.
Chief Secretary Ashoke Mohan Chakraborti said Mr. Chidambaram would visit Lalgarh in Paschim Medinipur on Sunday. The DGP, Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen and Central government officials would accompany him on another helicopter. This would be the first visit by a Union Minister to Lalgarh, which has become the epicentre of Maoist activities in the country.
Mr. Chakraborti told journalists that wide-ranging discussions were held at the meeting but he was not in a position to divulge anything now.
The meeting with Mr. Bhattacharjee was delayed by nearly one-and-a-half hour, as Mr. Chidambaram went to the Rajbhavan straight from the airport. This is Mr. Chidambaram's second visit to the State to discuss the Maoist problem. He had called a meeting of the Chief Ministers of all four eastern States, racked by Maoist activities, on February 9. That meeting paved the way for joint action by the affected States. Operation Green Hunt has already brought some successes, government officials feel. This is his first one-to-one meeting aimed at framing the next strategy to combat the Maoist problem.
However, amid rapidly changing schedules, the Union Home Minister's proposed visit on Saturday afternoon to certain pockets of Barddhaman district which has seen bouts of political violence between the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress since last year, was cancelled following delays in his programme in Arunachal Pradesh.
Even as it tried to mask a sense of disappointment at this development, the Congress and its ally Trinamool Congress sought a meeting with the Union Home Minister. . Mr. Chidambaram's scheduled visit to Lalgarh will take place in the backdrop of a bandh-call by the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee which has called the bandh in the three Maoist –stronghold districts to protest Mr. Chidambaram's visit.
A mine blast in Lalgarh on Saturday morning was a harbinger of the Maoist presence in the area even as the police tightened security arrangements after the incident.