Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that the Centre will not proceed on the Telangana issue until consensus is arrived at. Mr. Bhattacharjee told journalists here on Sunday that he called on Dr. Singh on Saturday seeking to know how the Centre intended solving the Telangana issue as it had a direct bearing on the hill areas and other parts of West Bengal.

It was learnt from the Prime Minister that the Centre was seriously trying to initiate a dialogue at the State and national levels.

Mr. Bhattacharjee pointed out that various parties had taken different stands and the parties in Andhra Pradesh were also divided on the Telangana issue.

He stressed his opposition to creation of smaller States, saying it was neither possible nor desirable in the present circumstances.

He warned that the setting up of a second States Reorganisation Commission would only open a Pandora’s box. “What for? The demand currently is for creating 28 States. If you set up the Commission, the number will only increase.”

Naxal issue

The two leaders also discussed the issue of naxalites. Mr. Bhattacharjee said a national-level operation against them would start soon. The situation in Jharkhand was being assessed as a new government is to be formed there.

He said the naxal problem could not be solved through policing alone, and called upon Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress to attend meetings held by the district administration and participate in the process of restoring peace and harmony.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said the anti-naxal operations in West Bengal had yielded results with main roads coming under government control. “We are yet to enter the villages located in the forest. It is very difficult. They throw bombs and kill innocent people.”

Asked if he had raised the issue of Trinamool’s alleged links with naxalites with the Prime Minister, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “I don’t need to do that. He knows everything.”

To another question, Mr. Bhattacharjee said his government was serious about arresting Maoist leader Kishanji, who was talking to hundreds of journalists every day and yet remained elusive. The government identified a mobile tower but locating him in that area was proving difficult.

The Chief Minister said he had read reports about the protest Kishanji lodged on the phone with Principal Environmental Secretary Madan Lal Meena against polluting mines. Mr. Bhattacharjee said he would talk to Mr. Meena.

The Prime Minister also assured the Chief Minister that he would look into the problems afflicting the Haldia Port, and at setting up industries at pitheads of mines and formulation of a separate jute policy to boost export.

New Governor

The State will have a new Governor by Republic Day to fill the vacancy caused by the expiry of tenure of Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

Dr. Singh conveyed the Centre’s intention to Mr. Bhattacharjee on Saturday.

Mr. Bhattacharjee declined to divulge specifics on the matter. He admitted that names were discussed. The appointment would be made before Republic Day.

He also refused to comment when asked if Union Minister Mamata Banerjee’s proposal of retired Justice Rajinder Sachar for the post was discussed with Dr. Singh.

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