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After Basu-Buddha prod, probe into voting

Calcutta, March 29: The CPM today took strong exception to the cross-voting by six MLAs, elected on Left Front tickets, in the Rajya Sabha po-lls yesterday and sought a report from the government's chief whip in the Assembly.

Party insiders said Jyoti Basu and chief minister Bud-dhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed their unhappiness over the way things went in the elections last night itself and spoke to front chairman Biman Bose, also a CPM politburo member.

The Forward Bloc, whose Barun Mukherjee ' the front's fourth candidate for the upper House ' barely scraped through with second-preference votes in the face of the cross-voting, and whose Kalimuddin Shams voted for the Congress, however, was in a take-it-easy mood.

Caught in the act, Shams, a former minister, had cancelled his vote for the Congress's Subrata Mukherjee.

Bloc secretary Ashok Ghosh said Shams was unwell and not very alert mentally. 'So, he cannot be blamed for the goof-up.' The party will not ask Shams to explain himself.

The front chairman has, however, sought a detailed re-port from the chief whip, Rabin Deb. He has been asked to 'give in writing' why the Left MLAs voted for rival candidates, Bose said at the CPM's Alimuddin Street headquarters.

Denied Assembly poll tickets by the West Bengal Socialist Party, Sunirmal Paik and Mujibar Rahman voted for the Trinamul Congress's Mukul Roy. So did expelled CPM member Sushil Biswas.

Expelled Bloc leader Chhaya Ghosh, also a former minister, and Mohammed Yakub, a Left-backed Independent, voted for the Congress.

Despite the support from unexpected quarters, Subrata Mukherjee managed only 33 votes. Had the number been 48, he would have gone to the Rajya Sabha.

Today, he said Shams's vote for him was not by mistake. 'He telephoned me yesterday morning to say he was fed up with the Left Front and would vote for me,' Mukherjee said.

'There is no question of Shams being ill... he voted for me consciously and spontaneously,' the former mayor said.

Trinamul MP Mukul Roy, who polled the highest number of votes ' 56 ' as the rest squabbled, bragged that he had not craved the votes of rebel front MLAs. 'It was a pleasure eating into the Left vote bank,' he added.

Buoyed by the cross-voting, Mamata today held a meeting with some key functionaries and told them to highlight the 'bickerings' in the front while campaigning for the Assembly elections. 'Tell the people that Trinamul got Left votes and try to explain that the front is a divided house,' she is learnt to have told them.

The front chairman said he would send the chief whip's report to the front partners for their observations. 'If necessary, I will talk to them.'

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