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Calcutta Weather
WeatherTemperature
Min : 28.10°C (+1)
Max : 37.60°C (+4)
Rainfall : 0.00 mm
Relative Humidity:
Max : 89.00% Min : 51.00%
Sunrise : 4:54 AM
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Today
Sultry weather. Maximum temperature likely to be around 37°C.
 
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Absence and presence of ex-CMs torment Karat
- Buddha’s ‘weakness’ and VS’s local jibes threaten to undermine authority of CPM boss

Hyderabad, June 10: Two former chief ministers, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and V.S. Achuthanandan, appear to have turned into twin stones around CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s neck as the party’s central committee prepares to review the Assembly election results.

While Bhattacharjee seeks to torment Karat by his absence from the meeting, VS — as Achuthanandan is known in Kerala — is pin-pricking the party boss by his robust presence in Hyderabad. The two-day central committee meeting to review the party’s poll performance in Bengal and Kerala begins tomorrow.

Bhattacharjee’s decision to keep away from the crucial meeting — the party cited “physical weakness” but the former chief minister turned up at the Alimuddin Street party office earlier than usual today — is being seen as nothing short of sounding the “no-confidence” bugle against the central leadership and its political line.

It’s not the first time the Bengal leader has turned his face away from a central party meeting. He has skipped a series of politburo meetings since the electoral drubbing in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The central committee meeting in Hyderabad carries more significance, given its agenda to establish the reasons for the Left’s historic defeat in Bengal and the near-miss in Kerala. Since Bhattacharjee had led the electoral battle in Bengal, his presence at the meeting was considered essential. Along with Bhattacharjee, another central committee member, Gautam Deb, is not expected to attend.

Bhattacharjee’s absence was all the more significant, given that he had ignored a personal request made by the party boss. Sources said Karat, during his visit to Calcutta early this month to attend the state committee meeting, had requested Bhattacharjee to go to Hyderabad. “Buddha had agreed to come but he decided otherwise at the last moment,” a leader said.

“His decision to skip the meeting is sad for the party. He seems to be making his unhappiness against the central leadership loud and clear. It does not augur well for the party facing a difficult time,” said an Andhra Pradesh state committee member, pointing out that the excuse of indifferent health appeared untenable.

Another leader pointed out that though the absence of Bhattacharjee could end up helping Karat tighten his grip on the organisation, it could also undermine the authority of the party boss.

Despite their differing stands, the two former chief ministers are putting a question mark on Karat’s authority as the general secretary of the party. By communist party standards, Bhattacharjee’s decision to not attend the Hyderabad meeting amounts to defiance.

Defying Karat, the Bengal party had openly exhibited its admiration for expelled leader Somnath Chatterjee, again a grave indiscipline. On the whole, the Bengal party continues to snub the central leadership.

Karat might continue to hold on to the party’s top post, sweeping aside these issues, but his authority stands seriously undermined, some party leaders feel.

The 87-year-old VS arrived here on Thursday, two days ahead of the meeting. But he made it clear that his zeal was not born out of love for Karat or his Kerala man, state party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.

In the garb of raising state-specific issues as leader of the Opposition, VS targeted Pinarayi. VS and the powerful state leader Pinarayi, who enjoys Karat’s backing, do not see eye to eye.

The sulking VS had skipped the extended central committee meeting in Vijayawada in August last year and Bhattacharjee, who had made a brief appearance, had not shared the dais with Karat. The meeting was called to finalise the poll strategy for Bengal and Kerala and review the political line of the party.

VS today spoke to reporters and backed the Congress-led UDF government’s inquiry into alleged admission irregularities in a medical college governed by the Pinarayi faction of the party in northern Kerala.

CPM state committee member M.V. Jeyarajan is the chairperson of the Periyaram Medical College’s governing council and questions are being raised over the admission of a DYFI leader’s daughter through the NRI quota.

“There are some doubts and so the inquiry is OK,” VS said, throwing the Kerala party into a tizzy and prompting the DYFI leader to announce that his daughter was giving up the seat.

VS also read out a letter he had written to Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, strongly opposing the new government’s move to revoke the suspension of an IG-rank police officer, Tomin Thachankary, regarded as close to Pinarayi. “He (Thachankary) faces charges of smuggling…. Don’t revoke his suspension,” wrote VS, who had suspended the officer when he was chief minister.

Post-poll, the Pinarayi faction has been desperately trying to buy peace with VS. Burying its animosity, the state committee, packed by Pinarayi loyalists, had acknowledged VS’s role in making Kerala’s poll contest so close. After the election results, Karat, too, did not shy away from extending credit to VS.

VS, however, seems to be in no mood to put an end to his direct fight against Pinarayi and the indirect one against Karat. Attempts to dangle the olive branch of revoking VS’s suspension from the politburo are also on. VS backers, however, feel such a gesture is springing not from sympathy but from pressure. “Now they cannot ignore VS even if they (the central leaders) want to. He has become too big,” said a party leader.

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