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Collective Party of India (Marxist)

New Delhi, May 18: Biman Bose, the CPM’s Bengal chief, today offered to take responsibility for the party’s rout in the Lok Sabha elections in the state but was swiftly turned down by the politburo headed by general secretary Prakash Karat.

The party pointed out that bourgeoisie parties fixed “individual responsibility” while communists went by “collective responsibility”.

Bose made the offer at today’s politburo meeting that held a preliminary review of the election results, sources said. He, however, did not offer to resign.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had resigned yesterday after his party’s poor show in his state. While DMK leader M.K. Stalin resigned and retracted within a matter of hours today, Nitish has sought a day to announce his final decision in the face of a clamour from his party to stay on. (See Pages 4 and 5)

Bose echoed the party, asked about the step by Nitish and the demands for the resignations of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. “Such things happen in bourgeoisie parties. In our party, we take collective responsibility,” he told reporters after the politburo meeting.

Karat has already refused to accept responsibility for the worst-ever performance of the CPM in the national elections. By turning down Bose’s offer today, the politburo is possibly trying to deflect the ball from Karat’s court too. If Bose is held responsible as state secretary, it will be difficult for Karat to escape blame as he is the general secretary of the party.

“There is no need for anyone to take responsibility,” Karat had replied firmly last Friday when the election results were announced, asked whether the leadership should do so in view of the party’s abysmal performance.

Karat contended that the party had performed better than 2009 in Kerala and Tripura and said the poor showing in Bengal was because of rigging by the ruling Trinamul Congress.

“The widespread rigging, violence and intimidation targeting the Left Front... led to the distorted result that does not reflect the popular support for the CPM,” he had said.

He said the party had increased its tally in Kerala and won with higher margins in the two seats in Tripura.

The statistical nuggets, however, do not reflect the ground situation in Kerala, where the performance was way below expectation a few months ago. Despite pinning down the Congress-led government on a corruption scandal, the Left could win only six of the 20 seats in the state.

An offer to accept responsibility was also made today at the meeting by a politburo member from Kerala, M.A. Baby, who lost. Baby, a sitting MLA, was the only politburo member to contest the Lok Sabha elections and he failed to lead even in the Assembly segment he represents.

Baby’s offer, too, was turned down by the politburo. Both Bose and Baby were asked to wait for the central committee meeting on June 7 and 8 where a “ruthless introspection” would be carried out and responsibilities fixed but privately, sources said.

“Both leaders were told that there was no need for them to take individual responsibility as the party, unlike other bourgeoisie parties, believes in the concept of collective responsibility,” a CPM leader said.

Citing the same reason, Karat had refused to take responsibility for the CPM’s defeat in Bengal and Kerala in the last Assembly elections. “We swim and sink together,” he had said then.