The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Twin Bs in charge

Calcutta, March 20: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose will share responsibility for running the CPM’s election campaign in the wake of state secretary Anil Biswas’s illness, the politburo decided today.

“The chief minister and Biman Bose will share responsibilities now. Other (state) secretariat members will also take up work relating to polls,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said.

The key among these “other members” will be Nirupam Sen, the industry minister, Benoy Konar, a veteran leader, and Madan Ghosh, a relative newcomer in the state leadership.

Bose, a politburo member, is also chairman of the Left Front but unlike Biswas, who as secretary was the single point of reference for the poll campaign and for party affairs in general, he has not been given sole responsibility.

The politburo’s move could signal an even greater role for the chief minister in the party. But Karat evaded a direct reply when asked about it. He only said the new system had been put in place keeping the elections in mind.

“This arrangement is entirely election-related and does not have anything to do with party organisation.”

Political observers believe the CPM sent a strong message to the electorate that Bhattacharjee is the man who would lead the party into the elections, even more so than before.

In Biswas’s absence ' and with Bose being not so much in control of the organisation as the now-ill secretary was ' it is also possible Bhattacharjee may find it easier to set the party agenda.

There is no reason yet for the CPM to choose a successor to Biswas and by making it clear that the arrangement was only for the elections, Karat would also have tried to scotch speculation that eventually Bose would take charge.

Apart from reasserting to the electorate Bhattacharjee’s position as the mascot of the party, the announcement was aimed at reassuring the supporters, unnerved by Biswas’s sudden illness, about the line of leadership.

Concerned over Biswas’s condition, Karat said: “Doctors are working hard for his early recovery. We rely on assessments made by the doctors. I have had telephone talk with doctors and was told that his condition is serious.”

CPM politburo members held a meeting with the state leadership this morning to discuss how the party should tackle the crisis.

In view of the observations made by the medical team attending on Biswas, they reached the conclusion that the “temporary void’’ required to be filled.

Karat, Jyoti Basu, Bose and Bhattacharjee talked to state leaders, after which the present arrangement was agreed. “We had to take a decision in the absence of Anil Biswas'. We want to have him back at the earliest,” Karat said.


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