West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should clarify whether her earlier utterances that there were no Maoists in the State were “correct or wrong,” said Biman Bose, chairman of the State's Left Front Committee here on Sunday, a day after the former set a seven-day deadline for the left-wing extremists in the Jangalmahal region on her offer of negotiations on the condition that they give up their arms.

“They [the Trinamool Congress] had a pact [with the Maoists] during their campaign against the Left Front government. So, all of a sudden they just cannot change their position,” Mr. Bose, who is also State Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said while observing that Ms. Banerjee was “not admitting her earlier mistakes.” It is against such a backdrop that the Chief Minister's remarks about negotiations and peace talks with the Maoists are “confusing,” he said.

“The Trinamool Congress-led government has repeatedly said that there are no Maoists [in the State]. It had wanted to ignore the fact that a problem existed in the Jangalmahal area. Now all of a sudden they [the Trinamool Congress] have started saying that if they [the Maoists] do not sit for peace talks, if they do not surrender their arms then we [the government] will see how strong they are.

“This raises the question of whether the earlier utterances of the Trinamool Congress chief as Chief Minister are correct or wrong. This should be admitted by the Chief Minister as this is a democratically-elected government.”

He reiterated that the Maoists were a “political force” which had to be “fought back politically.”

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