West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya continued defending the actions of Communist Party of India Marxist cadres in Nandigram on Wednesday, unfazed by the scathing attack by his coalition partners about his previous comments.
"I am saying today what I have said yesterday. Those who returned home merely followed the tactics of the opposition," said the chief minister,
Supporting CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose's statement that there was a 'new dawn in Nandigram', Bhattacharya said the government has allocated Rs one crore from the chief minister's relief fund.
"The fund is being sent to the (East Midnapore) district magistrate. From this, Rs 1,000 would be given to the returning families for reconstruction of fully-damaged houses and Rs 500 for partially damaged ones. Each family would be given another Rs 1,000 for buying utensils," he said, adding that the funds would be given to the affected families irrespective of their political affiliation.
Asked about reports that CPI-M supporters were touring the villages of Nandigram on motorcycles and intimidating supporters of opposition parties, the chief minister said such action would not be tolerated.
"We are keeping watch. No act of violence or violent body language would be tolerated," he said.
Reacting to criticism that he sounded more like a CPI-M leader than a chief minister, Bhattacharya said that while he was the chief minister as per the Constitution, he also considered himself a CPI-M leader. "I cannot deny my political character," he said.
The chief minister said that relief would also be provided to the families returning home. "The district magistrate has been asked to review the stock of rice available with him.
Once that is done, rice would be given as per the general relief rules."
Keeping in view the approaching winter, the government was also looking at the possibility of providing clothing and blankets to the families, he said.
All political parties have been asked to submit lists of such families, the chief minister said.
He said that 700 familes have already returned, while another 500 were yet to do so.
"We shall have to see that they can come back soon. Our aim is to restore peace. I've asked the officials to tour the area, to visit the markets, to talk to people so that the normal rhythm of life returns," Bhattacharya said.