Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday first suggested that CPM cadres blocked the Bhubaneshwar Rajdhani Express to malign her image. When confirmation came that it was the Maoist-backed PCPA(People's Committee Against Police Atrocities), a pro-Maoist organisation, Banerjee said she was ready for a dialogue. And even asked those holding the train hostage to identify a venue, reports Indian Express.
This, when earlier in the day, Banerjee had taken the families of two missing policemen to meet Home Minister P Chidambaram. And called for the military to be inducted in anti-Maoist operations. What she did not say was that the group which had stopped the Rajdhani was the very group she and her party have supported — and solicited support from — barely months ago. Consider:
* Banerjee and other Trinamool Congress leaders visited Lalgarh soon after the PCPA was formed after police action following the landmine attack on the Chief Minister's convoy at Salboni in November 2008.
* In the initial stages of PCPA's agitation, Banerjee shared the stage with Chhatradhar Mahato — key Maoist behind the Lalgarh attacks — and other leaders. Today's protesters demanded Mahato's release.
* Trinamool Congress leaders again went to Lalgarh during the Lok Sabha campaign with PCPA help in March-April, 2009.
* After joint security operations began in Lalgarh and there were reports of exodus of villagers, Banerjee sent Sisir Adhikari, Union Minister of State, to hand over relief material to the PCPA.
* Among the “intellectuals” who sought support for Banerjee on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls on the plank of a “change” for Bengal, were many who had visited Lalgarh and interacted with Mahato. Kaushik Sen and Aparna Sen were among those who called for a stop to the joint security operations.
For the record, Banerjee and other Trinamool leaders have tried to differentiate between the Maoists and the “tribal movement.” They have argued that their support to the PCPA was driven by their abject poverty and claimed.