Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday praised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Trinamool Congress MP Suvendu Adhikari for their “political mobilisation” to counter the Naxal menace in the Junglemahal region of the state.
In comments that came notwithstanding Trinamool Congress’s parting of ways with Congress in September, Ramesh also said no one should take away the credit due to Mamata, saying her approach to tackle the Naxal problem was “right”.
The praise by Ramesh came days after he took a jibe at the Trinamool supremo for her “brain-dead” comment on the UPA government, prompting the feisty leader to hit back at him for using “vindictive, unethical and unconstitutional” language in an official letter addressed to her.
“She may not be our ally now but I must say that she had transformed the scenario in Junglemahal. She had shown the political courage required for the changes in the Naxal-affected areas,” the Union Minister said after meeting West Bengal Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee here.
“The kind of political mobilisation that happened in Junglemahal during the last two years is worth mentioning and one should not take away the credit due to her. While Mamata Banerjee has been an overarching figure behind this political mobilisation, Suvendu Adhikari has been instrumental in organising it on the ground. Both of them should be praised for playing an instrumental role in changing the ground situation in Junglemahal,”
Adhikari incidentally is currently in a controversy for interference in the affairs of the Haldia Dock Complex, leading to pulling out of Haldia Bulk Terminals from the port.
The Junglemahal area, consisting of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts, was the worst Naxal-affected zone in West Bengal during CPM rule.
He also lauded West Bengal government’s role in speedy execution of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme.
Mamata last month took serious umbrage to Ramesh writing to her that the ‘brain dead government in Delhi’ was sensitive to the needs of people of the state. Ramesh’s jibe at the the Chief Minister came after she had compared the UPA to a patient on his death bed. “It is now brain-dead and on ventilator...,” she had said.
Red wave Ebbing
125 civilians were killed in Maoist attacks in West Midnapore in 2009. In 2010, the number of fatalities jumped to 311. This year, 26 civilians have been killed so far.
In 2009, the district witnessed 30 bandhs called by the Maoists. In 2010, 24 bandhs were called by them. In 2011, the area witnessed bandhs on only 14 days.