Calcutta, March 28: When Jyoti Basu told The Telegraph he would need only a minute to pick a successor to Anil Biswas after the former Bengal party secretary suffered a fatal cerebral attack, he had meant Biman Bose.
Yesterday morning, as mourners with upraised fists were filing past Biswas’s body at the party headquarters, the CPM’s core leadership met informally and anointed Bose, 66, as the next Bengal secretary, those involved in making the decision said.
“Biman is one of our senior party leaders and has an intimate knowledge of the party. He is a natural choice for the job,” the leaders quoted Basu as opening the discussion at the meeting.
Basu’s statement may come as a surprise since in the past he has openly expressed unhappiness with Bose.
But the relations are obviously not what they had seemed. Basu made a forceful argument: “Being a member of the politburo, Biman can act as the bridge between the state unit and our national policy-making bodies.”
General secretary Prakash Karat echoed the same sentiment. Among those present were chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, North 24-Parganas district unit secretary Amitava Bose and a few others.
The meeting took stock of the situation in the context of the approaching Assembly elections, the position of district party units on succession, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the principal candidates and their ability to function within the framework of party policies.
In a near-action replay, Basu, who had played a substantial role in the installation of Biswas about eight years ago, once again acted as the catalyst.
It is believed neither Basu nor Karat was keen on looking at other options ' such as Madan Ghosh who served as an understudy to Biswas and is likely to continue as such.
Certain district units did push the name of Ghosh, from Burdwan ' the strongest CPM unit ' citing the need for a smooth government-party interface “required for the development of Bengal”. They also pointed to the already heavy workload on Bose who wears the hat of the Left Front chairman.
But the leadership set aside the suggestion because of Ghosh’s relative inexperience. It also wanted an organisational heavyweight at the headquarters to ensure the balance of power with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government.