The war of words between Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took a new turn on Thursday, with the former inviting the latter for a meeting.
On Wednesday, Mr. Bhattacharjee criticised the Home Minister's assessment of the law and order situation in the State.
The Home Minister on Thursday sent two letters to Mr. Bhattacharjee as a reply to the Chief Minister's December 28 communication. “Both letters have been faxed as well as sent by Speed Post,” a Home Ministry statement said.
“Mr. Chidambaram has invited Mr. Bhattacharjee to Delhi at his earliest convenience to discuss the subject and agree on the way forward,” the statement said.
Kolkata Special Correspondent reports:
Mr. Bhattacharjee said on Thursday that he replied to the second letter he had received from Mr. Chidambaram.
The communication between the two centred mainly on the presence of Communist Party of India (Marxist) camps in the Jangalmahal area.
Earlier, the Chief Minister's office said two letters were received from Mr. Chidambaram during the day, and the Chief Minister sent in his reply.
“I have sent the requisite reply,” Mr. Bhattacharjee told journalists later.
Meanwhile, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said at Siliguri that “Comrade Buddhadeb has set up a model for courteous behaviour by sending in his reply to Mr. Chidamabaram's first letter in the manner in which he did.”
Reacting to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's remarks that the reply was casual, Mr. Bose said such comments could always be appended to anything. “I think that the Chief Minister has set an example of decent ethical conduct.”
Nearly a week after the leak of Mr. Chidambaram's first letter, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha member Shyamal Chakraborty wrote to Mr. Chidambaram on Thursday, demanding an investigation into the leak to the media. The responsibility rested with the Union Home Ministry, he said. “In the absence of an inquiry, the general perception will be that you are responsible for the leakage, and that will be quite unwarranted.”