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Subhas braves party, leaders wait & watch

Calcutta, Jan. 20: A day after the CPM brass said Subhas Chakraborty would not be allowed to contest the Cricket Association of Bengal election, the sports minister told his aides he was still mulling a fight.

The idea apparently was to test the waters because Chakraborty knows that defiance of the party’s directive could lead to disciplinary action.

Chakraborty met former chief minister and mentor Jyoti Basu at Indira Bhavan today and spoke to some of his close associates and two ministers — the RSP’s Kshiti Goswami and the CPI’s Nandagopal Bhattacharya — seeking their support.

Basu was not available for comment, but sources close to the CPM patriarch said he advised Chakraborty to go by the party line.

However, hours after the meeting, the sports minister told a TV channel: “The party’s decision is strange. I stand by what I have said…. There is no provision (in the rulebook) that says a party wholetimer cannot be associated with the sports body.”

“If Prasun Mukherjee decides not to contest, I will also withdraw,” he added.

Party sources said much of Chakraborty’s rhetoric was aimed at getting Mukherjee, the city police chief who has already filed his nomination for CAB president, to pull out.

Asked if he had spoken to state CPM secretary Biman Bose or Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who is said to be trying to broker peace, Chakraborty refused comment.

“Dada will contest, come what may,” one of his aides said from his Salt Lake house.

CPM leaders, however, asserted that Chakraborty would finally toe the party line. “I know Subhasda for a long time. Wait and see,” housing minister Gautam Deb, a CPM state secretariat member, said.

Deb was at yesterday’s secretariat meeting that issued a terse statement saying Chakraborty wouldn’t be allowed to contest.

PWD minister Goswami, now in Kerala, said Chakraborty had contacted him during the day to convey his decision to contest the CAB polls. “I shall back him if he enters the fray,” Goswami said.

Going a step further, water resources development minister Nandagopal Bhattacharya said Chakraborty should con-test. “There’s no reason why Subhas will not. He’s been associated with sports for long and Mukherjee is no match.”

Political circles, however, felt that Chakraborty would be courting trouble if he stuck to his guns. “His decision would also expose divisions within the monolithic CPM,” said a senior front leader.

Expelled CPM leaders such as Haradhan Roy, Saifuddin Chowdhury and Samir Putatunda, who went against the party in recent years, have slipped into political oblivion.

Samar Paul, an Aryan Club representative in the CAB belonging to Mukherjee’s camp, will file a suit in the city civil court on Monday asking for an observer to conduct the February 1 election.

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