New Delhi, March 7: The CPM politburo has pulled up senior party MP and central committee member Somnath Chatterjee for not objecting to the decision of a parliamentary committee to instal a portrait of V.D. Savarkar in the Central Hall of Parliament.
At the party’s central committee meeting in Delhi last week, CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet rapped Chatterjee for not being vigilant when Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi proposed unveiling Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall. Surjeet told the CPM MP that this had given the party a “bad image” in the country. A few other central committee leaders made similar observations.
Chatterjee agreed before the central committee that not objecting to the decision to unveil the portrait was a “mistake” and said he has already admitted as much at a news conference. The MP also assured the central committee that such a lapse would not occur in future and that he would be more alert.
The day before the portrait was unveiled, Chatterjee held a news conference and announced the Opposition’s decision to stay away from the ceremony.
The CPM said Savarkar, who was an accused in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case and had begged for mercy from the British during his years of incarceration, should not join the ranks of nationalists and patriots.
When grilled about why he had not raised his party’s objections at a meeting of the parliamentary committee for statues and portraits, which he had attended three months ago, Chatterjee said: “I concede it was a mistake.”
The meeting, which took the decision to put up Savarkar’s portrait, was also attended by senior Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee and Shivraj Patil, who also did not raise any objection.
The CPM MP also said at the news conference that he had told the Speaker that there was no space in the Central Hall to put up Savarkar’s portrait.
Pouncing on the CPM’s “mistake”, the BJP had charged the Opposition with backtracking on its earlier stand.
The CPM leadership believes that Chatterjee’s silence at the parliamentary meeting had cost the CPM heavily.