The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Calcutta is cool, for politburo and patriarch

Calcutta, June 5: After weathering the heat generated by the panchayat poll, the CPM leaders are shying from hot spots.

The politburo meeting of the party will be kicked off here tomorrow instead of sweltering Delhi or Thiruvananthapuram, which was too far off for Jyoti Basu. Calcutta might be hot for Calcuttans but cool when compared to the capital.

After Delhi was rejected for the heat in May, the politburo and central committee meetings were slated for the Kerala capital. But Basu, one of the oldest members on the politburo, declined to take a hopping flight to the city, citing health and the heat. “Thiruvananthapuram is as much an impossible place for me to visit in this heat as Delhi,” Basu told the party.

The city will host the CPM heavyweights for four days from Friday. The politburo will meet on June 6 and the central committee over for the next three days. The party’s highest policy-making body had earlier met in Calcutta in October and January but the committee had not had its customary session.

This time, there will be back-to-back meetings. The CPM units will discuss the strategy the party will follow during the Assembly elections in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram in November.

The CPM organisation is weak in these states. And the party, insiders said, will look to contest the poll in alliance with other “secular and democratic forces”.

But the leadership is divided over joining hands with the Congress to defeat the BJP. While a section of senior leaders still consider the Congress a secular force and favour an alliance with it, others are opposed to the idea. The CPM should fight the Assembly polls independently, feels a section of the party.

The CPM’s state unit will submit a report to the central leadership on the party’s performance in the panchayat election in May. The state leaders are “happy” with their performance in the rural poll after the CPM increased its share of votes by 7 per cent from its tally in the 1998 election.

The CPM is more pleased with its performance this year as the party not only had to fight the Trinamul Congress, the BJP and the Congress but also Left Front partners like the RSP and the Forward Bloc.

The front partners together got 56.52 per cent of the votes polled in the election and the CPM got 49.3 per cent.

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