Calcutta, May 9: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is trying in my own way to bring outgoing Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and former MP Saifuddin Chowdhury back into the CPM.
Asked during an interview to STAR Ananda if he would try to get either of these expelled leaders back by setting aside his personal ego, the chief minister replied: See, there is a party… an individual doesnt make a party... the party is made up of several people. I am doing it in my own way, this much I can say.
He did not specify if his efforts related to a possible return by both or only Chatterjee. No, I wont say anything specifically. I have talked to my colleagues on this issue in Delhi or Calcutta, he said.
Bhattacharjees remarks set off speculation about the reason behind Chowdhurys candidature from Jadavpur as a Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS) nominee.
According to political circles, the chief ministers remarks may raise doubts in Jadavpur voters minds whether Chowdhury had been foisted by the CPM to cut into Trinamul votes, and whether his return to the CPM was just a matter of time.
Buddhababus comment is enough to send the message to voters that Saifuddin is contesting at the CPMs behest. The statement also indicates he will return to his old party, a state Congress general secretary said.
Mamata Banerjee said, without taking Chowdhurys name: There is a candidate at Jadavpur who has been planted by the CPM to break up Trinamuls — rather, (party candidate) Kabir Sumans — Muslim vote bank. Im sure this person is going to rejoin the CPM within seven days after the elections are over.
Mamata had earlier agreed to give the PDS Hooghly or Jadavpur if it contested under the Trinamul symbol, but Chowdhurys party had refused. We decided not to surrender our party identity, said PDS leader Samir Putatunda, who had been with Mamata throughout her land campaign.
Saifuddin denied having received feelers from the CPM about a possible re-induction. In all the nine years since I quit the CPM, no feelers have been sent about my going back. Did I float the PDS to go back to the CPM? he said.
Buddhada is a good friend and we share a personal relationship. But his comments are apparently aimed at telling the Jadavpur electorate that it will be useless voting for me since I may go back to the CPM, and so people should support the CPM nominee. But I am sure of cutting into both CPM and Trinamul votes; and people shouldnt be misled by such remarks.
Saifuddin, who quit the CPM in 2000, contested the Katwa parliamentary seat on a PDS ticket in 2004 but polled just a little over six per cent. His party contested 70 seats in the 2006 Assembly polls and lost from all of them, just as it had lost from all the 101 seats it had contested in 2001.
CPM insiders said the party brass might consider Chatterjees return after the elections. Many party leaders, apparently, feel theres scope for damage control.
Somnathdas expulsion didnt go down well with the rank and file, a CPM state committee member said. Prakash Karat wants him to approach the party with a proposal to take him back. But that is unlikely going by Somnathdas stature and personality. Our leaders will definitely work out a formula that would be acceptable to both Somnathda and the party.
Asked if he missed Chatterjee, Bhattacharjee said: I miss him. For us, losing a personality like Somnathda, a leader like Somnathda… on the part of the party… personally too… is a bit painful.