Taking strong exception to the government move to deploy the armed forces to fight Maoists, Communist Party of India (CPI) general secretary A.B. Bardhan said only police and paramilitary forces should be used.

“The Army is not the answer. The defence forces have a very specific role. Using the Army against our own people is unacceptable. It will set a bad precedent,” the veteran leader told a ‘meet-the-press’ programme organised by the Kesari Memorial Journalists Trust here on Friday.

Mr. Bardhan said that “without any equivocation” his party fully disapproved of what the Maoists were doing. “We have enough ways in our parliamentary system to change even governments. The brutal killing of a police inspector and other acts of violence by the Maoists were most inhuman and dastardly acts,” he added.

Mr. Bardhan said the socio-economic context in which the Maoist violence took place and their tactics should also be taken into account when handling the issue. Even after 62 years of freedom, the government had not done anything in areas like Bastar and Gadchiroli where people lived in abject poverty and deprivation.

FTA criticised

The CPI leader also came down heavily on the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) without any consultation on the subject between the Centre and the States concerned, particularly Kerala. Nobody would say that Kerala’s plantation sector, which was likely to be the worst hit, should remain a low productivity-high cost affair. This was something that would call for a lot of technical, financial and institutional assistance. The State could not be punished with an agreement like the FTA, which would hurt both the State’s plantation economy and its fisheries sector, Mr. Bardhan said.

He regretted the CPI(M) decision to organise a protest on its own and said that ‘unilateralism’ would not help in such situations. There must have been a joint struggle involving the CPI(M), CPI and the RSP. When the CPI(M) announced its own programme, the CPI was also forced to do so. The RSP was also compelled to follow suit.

Mullaperiyar

On the Mullaperiyar issue, Mr. Bardhan wondered why Tamil Nadu was raking up a controversy now and hoped that the leadership of the two States would meet and try to allay the apprehensions of the government and the people of Tamil Nadu. “Bitterness and controversy should not be allowed to grow,” the CPI general secretary said.