The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Comrade mud on CPM

Calcutta, Feb. 3: A CPM member of Parliament today openly rebelled against the party, accusing it of siphoning out funds for development.

Radhika Ranjan Pramanik, a five-term MP from Mathurapur in South 24-Parganas, said “thieves and murderers” had infiltrated the CPM.

Pramanik’s relations with the leadership had turned sour in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2001. There was speculation then that he would break away from the CPM along with Saifuddin Chowdhury and Samir Putatunda.

Finally, only Chowdhury and Putatunda walked out to float the Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS).

Addressing a crowded news conference, Pramanik today dared the CPM brass to expel him.

“I shall neither give up my party membership nor resign as an MP,” he said. “There is no provision in our (the CPM) constitution that could make me quit. I do not want to inflict an untimely byelection on the people of my constituency and so I have decided to function as a CPM member inside Parliament.”

The CPM leadership said it has showcaused Pramanik. The MP has been asked to explain within 24 hours why he heaped accusations on the party in public.

“We are going to take action …Pramanik is an opportunist and by the look of it, he wants to end up being an Ajit Panja (Trinamul Congress founder member and MP, now in political wilderness for opposing party chief Mamata Banerjee),” said Shantimoy Bhattacharya, secretary of the CPM’s South 24-Parganas unit.

In a letter to Bhattacharya, Pramanik had alleged that the CPM had forced him to sign forged documents and part with money from the MPs’ local area development funds.

“I faced stiff resistance from the party brass in drawing up plans to utilise the money available for constituency development under the MPs’ quota. They (the leadership) siphoned off Rs 2 crore from my quota over months. I was forced to put my signature on blank papers and hand them to our cadre, who spent the money at will. The leadership took offence when I raised questions about using the money that way,” Pramanik wrote.

He claimed that he had documents to prove that the cadre exhausted funds from his quota flouting all norms. No amount of reasoning with the leadership bore fruit, Pramanik said.

Also a former MLA, Pramanik had been at odds with the CPM leadership for his unconcealed admiration for two of its anathemas: Mamata and Chowdhury.

The leadership had made its relations with Pramanik clear when it left him out of the South 24-Parganas committee, which was reconstituted last year.

“You know very well that I have been dropped from the committee because of my stands on issues like health, education, infrastructure development and development of the Sunderbans,” Pramanik had written.

But sources said he sought to package his impending exit from the CPM with political and ideological wrappings. “He knows he will not get a party ticket for a sixth time and wants to focus on the panchayat polls in May. The PDS and Trinamul are expected to do well in the district and Pramanik believes they will snap him up once he breaks ties with the CPM,” they added.

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