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Allies step up heat, CPI soft

Calcutta, March 9: The CPM and the CPI today stepped up pressure on the Forward Bloc to sacrifice sitting MP Barun Mukherjee to ensure the return of party general secretary Debabrata Biswas to the Rajya Sabha.

The new CPI state council today “endorsed” the party brass’s decision to ask for a “sure seat” in the Upper House.

Its state secretary, Manju Majumder, refused to speak to his Bloc counterpart Ashok Ghosh to thrash out a solution.

“We won’t hold any bilateral meeting with the Bloc as we have already placed our demand with Left Front chairman Biman Bose. All the partners, including the Bloc, have accepted the legitimacy of our demand,’’ Majumder said.

Bose, also the CPM state secretary, made it clear that he won’t take the initiative for another round of bipartite talks before the front meeting on March 13. “We have to take a quick decision at the meeting. March 15 is the last date for filing nominations,” he said.

At the last front meeting, the CPM and the RSP had asked the Bloc to pull out Mukherjee to make room for a CPI candidate and ensure Biswas’s renomination for the fourth consecutive term.

Ghosh, who had rejected the formula then, appeared to have softened his stand today. “We’ve been in the front since its birth and will continue to be in it. We are ready for talks with the CPI or any other partner to work out a consensus. But it is not the Bloc’s responsibility alone to ensure Left unity,” he said.

The Bloc, which drew a blank in the Tripura Assembly polls by contesting on its own, also hinted that it might review its decision to go it alone in the Bengal panchayat polls.

Asked if he was firm on the stand, Ghosh said: “I’m not saying that. It’s not my personal opinion but the party’s decision that matters.”

The partners feel that the CPI’s demand for the Rajya Sabha seat was orchestrated by the CPM to tame the recalcitrant Bloc before the rural polls.

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