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CPM ‘dilemma’ on Seth action

- Rethink on harsh decision before polls
Lakshman Seth

Calcutta, Feb. 24: The CPM is in a dilemma about the action to be taken against Lakshman Seth for his remarks against the party, with a section of leaders saying that any harsh decision before the Lok Sabha elections could antagonise the East Midnapore unit where the former MP has a good following.

Sources said the options being considered by Alimuddin Street include a caution in private, a public censure or an expulsion. The CPM state secretariat is likely to meet on Thursday morning to take a decision.

Seth had on the sidelines of a programme organised by CPM MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah at Rabindra Sadan yesterday criticised the leadership’s decision to drop him from the state committee, the party’s highest decision-making body at the state level.

“The leadership has acted undemocratically by dropping me from the state committee. I came to know from the media that I was dropped from the state committee. This was done when I was in jail,” he had said.

Seth had also cited Shakespeare’s King Lear and his “inevitable fall” when asked about the decision to drop him in 2012. The former MP had also admitted to have written to CPM state secretary Biman Bose saying he did not want to renew his party membership, due in March every year.

A section in the CPM today said that a caution or at most a censure would be imperative against Seth at this juncture. The former Tamluk MP, who had created a strong organisational base in East Midnapore over the years and was also the undisputed leader of Citu until the change of guard in the 2011 Assembly elections, is learnt to still wield considerable influence in the district.

“That’s what has led to the dilemma in our party. A section of our leadership believes that a private caution or a public censure would help the party put on record that some sort of action has been taken against Seth. They feel it would be better to stop at that now as any harsher action may create problems for the party in East Midnapore before the elections,’’ a CPM leader said.

The leader added that a caution is usually sounded in private in the presence of senior party leaders. A censure, on the other hand, is generally made public, where the leadership announces the decision.

Asked about the former party MP’s remarks, a CPM state secretariat member today said: “Lakshman Seth has invited action by making such anti-party remarks. Some leaders want his body, some are baying for his blood. Let’s see what decision is taken at the meeting on Thursday.”

Sources said the Alimuddin top brass were also irked at Seth’s comparison of the leadership as meeting the same fate as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

“Our leaders’ fall is imminent like that of Gorbachev if it functions in an autocratic and undemocratic manner,” Seth remarked yesterday.

He did not say who he had in mind while making the comment.

Some in the CPM today said that Seth became more vocal against the leadership after a two-member commission of Nripen Chowdhury and Mridul Dey was created to inquire into alleged irregularities in an NGO he heads.

A section in the CPM said the two probing the alleged irregularities were close to former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is said to be in favour of strong action against Seth.

But others in the party contended that Bhattacharjee had not been apathetic to Seth, even after his exclusion from the state committee. Rather, he had not opposed the appointment of Tamalika Panda Seth, the former CPM MP’s wife, as the Haldia municipality chairperson last year.

Seth, charged with criminal cases in the 2007 armed Nandigram recapture, is out on bail.

Seth was dropped from the CPM state committee in February 2012 following a decision at the party’s conference in Calcutta that month. The word that spread then was that the move had the support of Bhattacharjee, who didn’t want “tainted” people to be part of the party’s highest decision-making body at the state level.