New Delhi: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee,
a strong votary of dialogue with Maoists who has sought a halt
to joint security operations against them, had a meeting with
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here today.
The meeting assumes significance as Home Minister P
Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were also
The 40-minute meeting took place on a day when
Chidambaram lamented that he had not received any credible
response from the Left extremists to the Centre`s appeal to
abjure violence and come for talks.
"I regret to say that there has been no direct and
credible response to our offer of talks," he said at a
conference of state police chiefs before his meeting with
Mamata-led Trinamool Congress, the second largest
constituent of the UPA-II after the Congress, has been seeking
an end to the joint security operations against Maoists in
The meeting with the Prime Minister came against the
backdrop of a storm in Parliament over Mamata`s remarks
allegedly dubbing as a "murder" the death of Maoist leader
Azad in an encounter, with the BJP and the Left joining hands
to target the Trinamool Congress supremo.
Mukherjee, the Leader of the House, had then promised
Lok Sabha that he would ascertain the facts by consulting
Mamata and get back.
Asked what transpired at the meeting, Mamata merely said,
"I discussed Bengal related issues like CPI(M) sponsored
terror in the state with the Prime Minister."
She also alleged that CPI(M) cadres in the state were
accumulating illegal arms in large scale and demanded their
recovery by the central forces.
Reiterating her party`s stand, Banerjee also demanded
withdrawal of joint anti-Maoist operations by central
paramilitary forces and state police in West Bengal.
Asked about the response of the Prime Minister, she
refused to divulge anything. "I will not say," she said.
Earlier in the day, Chidambaram had told the DGPs`
conference that "the security forces need material and moral
support to carry out their tasks".
Incidentally, Banerjee had sent `rakhis` and sweets to
the Prime Minister and the Home Minister yesterday and today,
she tied a `rakhi` on Mukherjee`s hand.