Calcutta, May 23: Cries for change in the leadership after the CPM’s Lok Sabha poll debacle has claimed its first victim — a young leader involved in developing the party’s website.
CPM leaders have cited “anti-party activities” as the reason behind the decision to oust Subhanil Chowdhury, 35. Sources, however, said the action was lined up against Subhanil, who was a secretary of Alimuddin Street’s website branch committee, as he had questioned the continuance of senior leaders such as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose in their party positions despite a series of electoral setbacks.
Subhanil had spoken in favour of veteran leaders stepping down to “pave the way for a new leadership”.
A CPM state secretariat member said: “We have taken the decision to expel Subhanil Chowdhury for anti-party activities.” The party will officially announce the expulsion after the state committee’s ratification.
Subhanil, a PhD in economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University who is a professor in a Calcutta-based research institute, had been working for the CPM’s website since 2011. He had been a secretary of the SFI at JNU.
The move against Subhanil is a continuation of the CPM’s action against dissenting young voices such as Prasenjit Bose, who was the convenor of the party’s research cell in Delhi. Bose was expelled for his public criticism of the CPM’s decision to support Pranab Mukherjee as the UPA’s candidate for President.
The sources said the immediate provocation for the decision to expel Subhanil was a statement he drafted and circulated on May 20, demanding a change in the CPM leadership.
“However, the present leadership of the largest Left party, the CPI(M), has lost all credibility among the people because of their political-tactical errors and arrogance. Even after such a comprehensive defeat, they are refusing to take responsibility,” the statement read. “We appeal to the CPM leadership in West Bengal to step down owning responsibility for the electoral debacle and make way for a new leadership from within the ranks, which can explore new ideas on how to take the Left movement forward.”
At a meeting of the CPM state secretariat, the highest policy-making body of the party at the state level, on May 21, the decision to expel Subhanil was taken after going through his statement, the sources said.
At a meeting attended by CPM state secretariat member Sridip Bhattacharyya and state committee members Avik Dutta and Debashis Chakraborty at the Ganashakti office the next day, Subhanil was asked to “unconditionally” withdraw his name from the statement. Subhanil was also told to withdraw an article criticising the leadership that he submitted for publication to Arekrakam, a fortnightly edited by former finance minister and ideologue Ashok Mitra, or risk expulsion.
Subhanil told The Telegraph today: “For the past seven years, especially after Nandigram, I have been seeking answers on the manner in which the party was being steered. I was witnessing how the party was getting lost under the leadership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose. But I didn’t get any answer.
“So, after the painful Lok Sabha results, I issued a statement against the leadership and asked them to step down. The party asked me to retract. But I didn’t. So, I was summarily expelled from the party.”