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No room for CPM in Seth building

Tamluk, July 30: First, the CPM lost its shepherds in a former citadel. Now, its has lost a shelter.

The CPM has been told to vacate its most prominent address in East Midnapore, a district it had lorded over for decades before the seeds of its downfall were sown there.

The order to shift the CPM zonal committee office out of a sprawling campus in Haldia has been given by a trust headed by Tamalika Ponda Seth, the wife of Lakshman Seth who was one of the most prominent Left leaders in East Midnapore.

A resolution to evict the CPM from Sukumar Sengupta Bhavan was passed by the Tamalika-headed trust hours after she quit the party on Saturday along with around 25 frontline district leaders and 2,500 functionaries.

Lakshman and Tamalika own a flat in a building adjacent to Sukumar Sengupta Bhavan. Tamalika lives in the flat while Lakshman has been staying in Calcutta for the past few months.

In the past three days, party flags and boards and hoardings mentioning the CPM have been removed from Sukumar Sengupta Bhavan, which housed the zonal committee office for the past seven years.

CPM leaders viewed the move to remove the party office from the building as Lakshman’s way of reminding the state leadership that despite his expulsion in March, he could still deal a blow to the party.

“Our party is facing a stiff challenge in East Midnapore. Without Lakshman Seth, it would be difficult to script a turnaround in Haldia and the rest of the district. Trinamul has established its writ in the district,” a CPM state committee member said.

The three-storey building adjoining Sukumar Sengupta Bhavan serves as the quarters of trust secretary Pranab Das and some other district leaders. All of them resigned from the party along with Tamalika. The building also has a conference hall and a guesthouse. The 12-member trustee board is packed with Lakshman loyalists and all of them have quit the party.

Ties between Lakshman and then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee came under strain after the police firing in Nandigram on March 14, 2007, and the CPM’s armed recapture of the area in November that year, two incidents that began the Left’s slide.

Prasanta Pradhan, the CPM’s East Midnapore secretary, accused Tamalika and the other leaders who quit the party of “forcibly occupying” Sukumar Sengupta Bhavan.

He alleged that the trust had “cheated” the CPM and “acquired” the building.

“The decision to build a zonal office was taken nearly 10 years ago. Workers had donated a day’s pay for the construction. This is the party’s property. The Seths set up the trust with their aides to utilise the building for personal gains,” Pradhan said, referring to Sukumar Sengupta Bhavan.

Tamalika scoffed at the allegations. “The building never belonged to the CPM. The trust members had allowed the CPM to use the property. Now the decision has been revoked. Who gets to use the office would be decided by the trust,” she said.