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CPM to set organisational shuffle ball rolling today

Calcutta, Sept. 5: The CPM leadership will try to set the tone for an organisational shuffle in some districts despite resistance from a section in the party during its three-day state committee session that begins tomorrow at Alimuddin Street, sources said.

The leaderships of West and East Midnapore, Burdwan, Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia — where the party’s performance in the panchayat polls was “poorer” than North and South 24-Parganas, Nadia, North Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri — will be brought under the scanner.

At the state committee meeting on August 22, leaders such as Goutam Deb, central committee member and secretary of the CPM’s North 24-Parganas unit, had linked the party’s performance in central Bengal to organisational deficiencies. Veteran leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah had called for a shuffle in the state leadership.

Deb iterated his view at Tuesday’s state secretariat meeting and added that an organisational shuffle was needed to revamp the party.

“Goutamda’s targets are West Midnapore and Burdwan secretaries Dipak Sarkar and Amal Haldar,” a CPM source said.

Deb, known to be close to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose, has been saying since the panchayat poll results that leaders of the two districts should be pulled up, if not replaced, a CPM leader said.

That a section of senior leaders also feels the same is apparent, with former chief minister Bhattacharjee stressing at recent public rallies that the CPM needed to be “reshaped and revamped” by weeding out inactive and unwanted elements.

“Buddhada, however, prefers a slow approach to any hasty action. That’s because of the impending civic elections in districts where the party suffered in the rural polls,” a leader said.

Immediate change in the district leaderships will be easier said than done as it will require the approval of the respective district committees. Some district secretaries whose performance is under the scanner have the “full support” of the district units, sources said.

Besides, the debate over the comparative performance of the CPM across the districts is yet to be settled as the final panchayat poll break-up is still awaited.

“But there is little doubt that at the state committee meeting and the ensuing extended state committee session, the demand for heads to roll would be raised,” a source said.

A section of party leaders wants CPM Krishak Sabha leader Tarun Roy to replace West Midnapore secretary Sarkar. But such a move could face hurdles as Sarkar is a member of the CPM state secretariat, the highest policy-making body of the party at the state level.

Politburo member Nirupam Sen and central committee member Madan Ghosh, both of whom are key members of the state secretariat and hail from Burdwan, are against any change in the district leadership, the sources said.

The sources indicated that Sen and Ghosh might be open to the idea of carving out of the party’s Burdwan unit a separate industrial cell comprising Asansol and Durgapur with Bansagopal Chowdhury as its secretary. Such a move will avoid removing Haldar, who could be made the secretary of the party’s rural Burdwan unit.

“But implementing that will be difficult as unless a new district is carved out administratively, it will not be possible to have two secretaries for the same district,” a source said.

Chances of a shuffle in Bankura are expected to face resistance because of the “popularity” of district secretary Amiya Patra, who is also a state secretariat member, the source said.

There could be a change in the East Midnapore leadership because of district secretary Kanu Sahu’s failing health. “Nirmal Jana, I have heard, is a contender for the post,” a CPM state committee member said.

Calcutta is out of the panchayat orbit but a party source said a section in the city unit was in favour of Manab Mukherjee replacing Raghunath Kushari as its secretary. Kushari has expressed his unwillingness to continue because of “old age”.