Slamming the Centre for not being “serious enough” in reacting to the situation in the three Maoist-affected districts of West Bengal despite repeated appeals by her, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Saturday questioned the Centre’s “intention” to tackle the Maoist menace.
Ms. Banerjee also served an “ultimatum” to the Maoists to abstain from killing people in the name of the movement, failing which she said her party supporters would reclaim the Jangalmahal (the common name for the forested southwestern parts of the State) and give it back to the tribal people.
Questioning the “utility” of the joint operation by the Central and State forces when people were being killed regularly, she reiterated her demand to deploy the Army in the three districts and initiate a “combing operation” to flush out Maoists.
“I have repeatedly apprised the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and the Union Finance Minister about the serious situation there [in the Jangalmahal]. But nobody took any action. Being misled by the State, the Centre is supporting it,” Ms. Banerjee said at a press conference.
Calling the Maoists “demons of Lalgarh” and “friends of the Communist Party of India (Marxist),” she accused the State government of providing the ultras with arms from the State armoury and at the same time “staging a drama” of trying to eradicate them.
She also warned the Centre that it would not be able to shirk responsibility if the situation in the State worsened.
Sending out a clear signal to the Centre, the State government and the Maoists to not misinterpret her party’s courteousness as cowardice or weakness, Ms. Banerjee said: “We need no support from either the Centre or the State government to face the Maoists, since appealing is of no use. The Centre might surrender to the CPI(M), but the Trinamool Congress will not…I will personally go to Lalgarh myself to see whether the power of guns is mightier than public support or not.”
Speaking about the Maoists, she said: “Who is Kishen? Who is Bikash? Who is Chhatradhar? How could they become so powerful unless the State government supplied them arms and abundant foreign funds flowed in?...Who are the Maoists to punish corrupted people when they are the biggest corrupts ever? Their masks will be torn apart.”