Minister SMSes Mamata for talks, TC says political stunt

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Kolkata, Jan 14 (PTI) In a bid to stop politicalclashes in the state, the West Bengal government today made aneffort to reach out to Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee but herparty dismissed it as a ''political stunt''.

Housing Minister Gautam Deb said he had tried to talkto Banerjee yesterday to request her for a meeting with ChiefMinister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to work out a solution to theongoing political violence.

She was, however, not available over the phone, hesaid.

Today, he said, he had sent an SMS to Banerjeerequesting her to respond.

Reacting to the development, Trinamool secretarygeneral Partha Chatterjee, said, "What is happening? It is apolitical stunt. His (Deb) activities and stunts are crossingall limits. He is not maintaining the way a minister shouldcontact and talk to another minister. He is sending SMS andmaking phone calls for a political stunt."

Earlier, Deb, a CPI-M central committee member, saidthat the chief minister, Banerjee and senior Congress leaderPranab Mukherjee should sit and discuss the issue.

"If such a meeting is held and if they issue anappeal, violence can be stopped. Only police cannot stoppolitical clashes," he said.

Asked if violence would continue if Banerjee did notagree to such a meeting, Deb wondered, "Yesterday she saidthat her party does not want revenge. It wants change (ingovernment). All parties will campaign during election. Ifthey win the poll and she becomes chief minister, how can westop?

"In political clashes, some Trinamool supporters arealso getting killed. So why will she not agree to sit for ameeting to stop violence and save lives?"

Deb, however, admitted that if she did not agree, sucha meeting would be of no use and it would be difficult tocontain political clashes.

There were 38,000 villages in the state and the policecould not be deployed everywhere, he argued, saying that theCPI-M leadership had to restrain party activists and Trinamoolon its part had to ensure that their workers did not resort toviolence.

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