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CPM guidelines gag in-house critics

Calcutta, Dec 14: The CPM is banking on chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's 'success stories' in the run-up to the Assembly polls.

Rocked by critics within the party who have gone public with their complaints against the government, the leadership is not taking any chances.

The CPM's state secretariat has drafted a set of dos and don'ts (see chart) for its members to follow during campaigning and will place it before the state committee for approval at a meeting on December 20.

Party insiders said although the CPM is confident of winning next year's polls, expected to held in end-May, leaders are worried about a possible fallout of the squabbles within the party.

The guidelines have apparently been framed keeping Bhattacharjee's critics in mind.

'With the elections drawing near, this trend should be stopped immediately and ministers or leaders with grievances have been advised to take them up with the leadership instead of making public statements,' a party official said.

While transport minister Subhas Chakraborty is in the habit of slamming the government at every opportunity, land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla rubbed the chief minister the wrong way when he spoke up against the acquisition of land for the Indonesia-based Salim group's projects.

However, the Salim group's investments are not part of the guidelines, which focus on the Bhattacharjee government's success in the information technology and biotechnology sectors. The spotlight will also be on the huge amount of foreign funds that have flowed into the state during Bhattacharjee's five years in office.

Party insiders said the fragmented Opposition in the state has raised the ruling CPM's hopes.

However, the party is not taking lightly the Election Commission's role in the recently concluded Bihar elections. The CPM leadership is expected to ask all its ministers to try and be in the poll panel's good books and not make provocative remarks against its officials.

State party secretary Anil Biswas had come down heavily on central poll observers during the Asansol byelection in September.

CPM insiders said some leaders from districts in north Bengal ' particularly South Dinajpur, Malda and Jalpaiguri ' are unhappy with the government and the top brass after party workers facing criminal charges were forced to surrender in court.

They argued that most of the workers were wanted in connection with cases relating to political agitation. 'But our government treated our own men as criminals, which they are actually not,' said a leader.

Sensing the mood at the grassroots, the CPM leadership is planning to assign Jyoti Basu instead of Bhattacharjee to lead the campaign in the three districts.

'Jyoti Basu will campaign for us in the north Bengal districts if his health permits,' said a senior state leader.

The CPM has decided to put its booth committees in place by January 15 and will kick off its poll campaign at the Brigade Ground rally on January 8.

Apart from Bhattacharjee, Basu and Biswas will address the rally.

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