Even as the family of Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) leader Umakant Mahato claimed that he was a Trinamool Congress supporter, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee denied here on Sunday that his Cabinet colleague Mamata Banerjee had links with Maoists.
“The Trinamool Congress leader [Mamata Banerjee] has confronted every allegation... if anybody feels that it is possible to find a solution to the Maoist problem through dialogue, they can freely express their opinion. That does not mean that that person has links with Maoists and there is no reason to accuse them of such an allegation,” Mr. Mukhrejee told journalists at a function organised by the Kolkata Press Club.
Asked whether Ms. Banerjee's remarks on Maoist leader Azad's death were in disagreement with the UPA government's stand, he said there was no contradiction.
He, Ms. Banerjee and Union Home Minster P. Chidambaram had held a long discussion with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the matter.
Ms. Banerjee had said the government must clarify its position on whether the fact that Azad initiated negotiations with the Centre had a bearing on his killing, Mr. Mukherjee said.
“Recently, the Andhra Pradesh government explained the situation and the circumstances under which his killing took place. Therefore, I do not think that what she has stated has any contradiction with the stated policy of the UPA government,” he said.
“Just because the Trinamool Congress is a constituent in the Congress-led coalition, it does not follow that it cannot have an ‘independent opinion' as a separate political party.”
Mr. Mukherjee said the Home Ministry would look into Ms. Banerjee's allegation that armed cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were entering the Lalgarh region under the cover of joint operations by security forces.