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Karat pulls punches against Naveen; skirts mining scam


Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Jan 30:

Eyeing an alliance with the ruling BJD for the next general elections, the CPI (M) today preferred to go soft on the Naveen Patnaik government on the large-scale illegal mining in the state by equating it with similar irregularities in other states including Goa, Jharkhand and Karnataka and putting the blame squarely on the Centre for the violations.
Prakash Karat
“The Shah Commission report has inquired into illegal mining in the state and found illegality and irregularities in the extraction of mineral resources. However, the illegal mining is happening all over the country, be it Goa, Jharkhand or Karnataka. Let the report come out, we will make our stand clear,” said CPM general secretary Prakash Karat at a press conference here.

He, however, shifted the blame for illegal mining to the Union government stating that it happened due to the policy decisions of the Central government, turning a blind eye to the Shah Commission’s severe indictment of the state government for its role in the scam.

The Commission has clearly stated that the involvement of government officials has led to the multi-crore mining scam.

Karat, who raised the issue of atrocities against women in West Bengal ruled by TMC, also soft-pedalled the issue of the growing number of rape and murder of women in Odisha. All that he had to say on the subject was; “We expect the government would take firm action against the culprits.”

Even this statement came only after media grilled him on the issue asking why the party is soft against the Naveen Patnaik government.

Karat, who met Naveen Patnaik yesterday evening to discuss the national political scenario, expected to have an electoral understanding ahead of the elections to debar the Congress and BJP from assuming power.

“I met Naveen Patnaik yesterday evening to discuss the national political scenario. Our party is trying to have an electoral understanding with non-Congress secular parties. So, we hope to have an understanding with the BJD in Odisha too,” said the CPM general secretary.

He, however, denied that there was any discussion about electoral understanding for the Assembly elections in the state.

Replying to a question as to why his party was keen to have a tie-up with the BJD, which has been tainted by the mining scam, Karat said that left parties have an understanding on economic policies that is radically different from the policies followed by the BJP and Congress. Both the Congress and BJP pursue the same economic policies, which are essentially meant to serve the interests of the corporate sector, Karat said adding there is a need for an alternative based on common policies.

When asked if Naveen Patnaik could be the prime ministerial candidate of the third front, he quipped; “Let the election be held..why do you want to jump the gun?”

Karat also ruled out any understanding with the Aaam Admi Party (AAP).