Govt defends Mamata's speech in Lalgarh



New Delhi: Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's speech in Maoist-dominated Lalgarh which created a political storm was today defended by the government, which said whatever she has spoken was not against the UPA's policy.

"Mamata Banerjee attended the Lalgarh rally on August 9 as chief of Trinamool Congress. Whatever she said there was not against the government's policy," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said in Rajya Sabha.

He said that she spoke against violence and government's policy against violence is quite clear.

Bansal spoke on the matter shortly before the House was adjourned sine die.

Bansal's statement came in the wake of sharp criticism by Opposition parties yesterday of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's remark that he found "nothing wrong" in Banerjee's statement on the killing of Maoist leader Azad.

"The Finance Minister's remark was tantamount to the government running with the hare and hunting with the hound," Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Mukherjee had said in Kolkata on Sunday that there was no reason to suspect that Banerjee had links with Maoists if she thought that the Naxal problem could be negotiated through dialogue.

PTI