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Defeated MPs target Karat line
Biman Bose and Tarit Topdar

Calcutta, May 17: Murmurs of dissent against Prakash Karat’s line are growing within the CPM.

Tarit Topdar, the six-time CPM MP who lost to Trinamul lightweight Dinesh Trivedi in Barrackpore, today trained his guns on Karat’s initiative to vote against the trust mo- tion moved by the Manmohan Singh government after the row over the nuclear deal.

“People totally rejected our initiative to vote against the confidence motion along with the BJP and Mayavati. What were the anti-imperialist credentials of these forces if the fight against US imperialism was at stake? The Bengali middle class did not like to see us with parties of such background,” Topdar said.

Topdar, an outspoken state committee member known as a Jyoti Basu acolyte, “reserved” his judgement on the “sagacity” of the withdrawal of support to the UPA government and did not name Karat. But he echoed the misgivings of many Bengal leaders against the central leadership.

“Questions are bound to be raised about why we became the destabilising factor for the government after lending stability to it for four-and-a-half years,’’ said Topdar, who was among the first CPM leaders to voice protest against the Nandigram firing. He had also resented the central leadership’s objection to a proposal to confer the Bharat Ratna on Basu which the patriarch himself later turned down.

Topdar said: “After the emergence of the BJP in national politics, we can’t take an extreme position that we will never ally with the Congress.’’ Iterating what Somnath Chatterjee and Subhas Chakraborty had said, Topdar said he didn’t consider the third front a “viable and credible alternative”.

He felt that the Left could have played a role in the formation of a stable government and influenced policies this time, too, if bridges with the Congress were not burnt.

Two other MPs who lost, Sujan Chakraborty and Rabin Deb, also gave vent to misgi-vings about the third front.

The statements were lar-gely in tune with the stand of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and state CPM secretary Biman Bose that Karat’s refusal to support the Congress was a “pre-poll” stand.

Bose today refused to blame “local factors” for the poll setback that drove down the Left Front tally to 15 from 35 with the CPM’s number plunging to nine from 26. As many as 13 sitting MPs lost.

“Voters across the country decided to support the Congress to keep the BJP at bay and form a secular as well as stable government. The Congress wave worked in Bengal also. People did not repose faith in the third front as we failed to make it a credible force in their eyes,’’ Bose said.

The comments are being interpreted as a suggestion that the central leadership’s policies also, rather than local factors alone, played a role in the debacle. “The issue of land, agriculture and industry were not the decisive factor (for the Left Front disaster). How did the Congress do so well across the country, in Delhi and elsewhere where land was no issue?” Bose asked.

But not all defeated MPs blamed the Karat line. “Our party is not the party of Prakash Karat or Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. We took the decisions collectively and should own up. We can look back and rethink earlier decisions. There may be question over the signature style of the top leadership but not the political content of its discussions,’’ said Mohammad Salim.

But he admitted that the Left failed to make the people realise the “danger posed by US imperialism to India”.

Both Topdar and Salim agreed that “local factors”, too, contributed to the setback.

“Mamata sailed with the help of the Congress wind. But she also exploited state issues like Singur, Nandigram and land acquisition in general as well as sectoral issues like minority, Scheduled Caste and tribal discontent,” Salim said.

“The anti-incumbency factor also helped the Opposition,” Topdar said.

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