Accusing Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee of being “quid pro quo” with the Maoists, Brinda Karat, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member, said here on Saturday that it was “unprecedented in the country’s history where a member of the Union Cabinet is utilising her position to give patronage to a banned outfit.”

Ms. Karat added that the CPI(M) would raise the issue in the coming Parliament session.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the National Convention of Platform for Rights of Disabled, she said the question raised by Ms. Banerjee about the identity of the Silda camp attackers pointed to the understanding between the Trinamool and the Maoists, since it was clear that left-wing extremists had staged it.

Twenty-four Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans were killed when Maoists raided the Silda camp in the State’s Paschim Medinipur district on February. Maoist leader Kishanji later claimed responsibility for the attack.

“When you are directly or indirectly asking for the withdrawal of security forces, when you are openly supporting a Maoist front like the one Chhatradhar Mahato leads, when your party MPs glorify violence against poor CPI(M) victims, the message is clear that you are in quid pro quo with the Maoists,” Ms. Karat said.

‘Odd and strange’

She described Ms. Banerjee’s attitude as “odd and strange,” especially since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced that the Maoists are the biggest internal security threat.

On the effectiveness of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s offer of talks with Maoists if the latter halted violence for 72 hours, Ms. Karat said he should first “work out” the issue with his “colleague” (Ms. Banerjee) since she was stressing on unconditional talks.

Criticising the rising prices of essential commodities and the Centre’s recent decision to decontrol the price of fertilizers and initiate a nutrient-based subsidy scheme, Ms. Karat said the political message sent out by the Centre through these actions “could be summarised in four words — We Couldn’t Care Less.”

Referring to the continuation of future trading in food grains, she said that instead of banning it, the Centre did not even mention it in its note to the Chief Ministers regarding controlling price rise.

“This shows the refusal of the Centre to make a cost correction…does any government raise the price of fertilizers during a period of inflation? These issues will also be raised in the Parliament session and we are in touch with the other political parties [regarding the issues],” Ms. Karat said.