Even as the Maoists continue to refute reports that they were responsible for setting up the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) in the Lalgarh region of West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district and providing it with logistical support, Maoist Polit Bureau member Koteswar Rao alias Kishanji admitted, for the first time, that the movement initiated by the tribal people in the region helped the Maoists consolidate their presence.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from an undisclosed location in the Lalgarh region late on Monday, Kishanji said: “The Maoists have been doing groundwork in the region for long and had drawn up a meticulous plan. However, had the police not perpetrated torture on tribal women after the landmine blast on the Chief Minister’s convoy last year, the movement could not have gained intensity so fast. It helped us.

“The pace at which the movement spread in the entire region and the manner in which more and more people joined it, was unexpected. It was almost 50 to 60 per cent more than our calculation,” he said, adding that the Maoists were at “much more advantage in Lalgarh, than in Singur and Nandigram.”

Kishanji, however, refused to acknowledge that political motivation behind the tribal uprising was entirely due to the Maoist influence.

“The Maoist struggle and the people’s movement in the Lalgarh region are separate entities. Though our groundwork there was a continuous process, the fascism led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was the major reason for their political awakening.”

Claiming that new recruits were still coming into the Maoist squad in spite of the security forces’ operation, Kishanji said that their ultimate goal was to turn the region into a “liberated zone.”

Asked if the Maoists would leave the region once the ‘liberated zone’ was established, Kishanji ruled out such a possibility.

Criticising Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for engaging in “opportunistic politics,” the Maoist leader alleged that she was giving “diametrically opposite statements” over her stand regarding the Lalgarh movement and the Maoists.

Kishanji denied that a press statement signed by Maoist leader Bikash slamming Ms. Banerjee as a ‘class enemy’ was circulated lately. He said this was a “ploy of the CPI(M) and the West Bengal police.”