Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday put the onus on West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to give a reply to Home Minister P Chidambaram's letter which asked the government to disarm Communist Party of India - Marxist cadres in the state.
"The home minister has written to the state government. He has fulfilled his responsibility. Now the state government should fulfil its responsibility and reply by acknowledging receipt of the letter," he told reporters.
Mukherjee, in a vitriolic attack on the state's law and order situation, said in the last 34 years of CPI-M's rule, hundreds of Congress workers had been killed in Bengal.
"What kind of jungle rule one is living in here? The government's first duty is to protect the people and if that is not kept, what is the meaning of a government? In the whole of West Bengal, this situation prevails," he lamented.
In Kolkata, CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose on Sunday still maintained that the letter had not reached the government yet.
"The state government has not received the letter. I have heard what Pranabbabu has said. Definitely a reply will be given on receipt of the letter," he told reporters.
Acknowledging existence of CPI-M camps in Jangalmahal, Bose said, "In what has appeared to be contents of the letter, a reference was made of the existence of CPI-M camps. The camps are there to shelter homeless people. Where would the homeless people go? CPI-M party offices have been converted into camps to shelter homeless people."
"Let Trinamool Congress give a list of their partymen killed. We are prepared to give a list of CPI-M men killed. What is being said is to confuse people. Trinamool Congress had in its memorandum said that 55,000 people had died," he said, referring to Chidambaram's letter which stated that 96 Trinamool cadres had been killed and 1,237 injured till December 15.
Chidambaram's strongly-worded letter to Bhattacharjee comes in the wake of ally Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee alleging misuse of central security forces in the state and offering to quit if her charge was proved wrong.
"If these armed cadres continue to take upon themselves the duties of maintaining law and order, I wonder what the role of security forces is, specially central para-military forces which have been deployed at the request of the state government," Chidambaram had said in the letter.
His letter came a day after a Trinamool Congress delegation had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and conveyed to him alleged misuse of central security forces in West Bengal.
Trinamool Congress on Monday said that since the CPI-M's policy was to 'depend on lies, murder and terror', it is least expected that they would acknowledge the receipt of the letter.
"We are keeping a watch on the situation and will form our opinion after a discussion within the party," said TC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee.