The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Reality bites into rally rage

Calcutta, Oct. 9: After grandstanding over the past 10 days, Bengal’s ruling communists appear to have slipped into a gentle but steady lowering of their high pitch against the high court order restricting rallies.

Left Front officials indicated today how certain realities were too important for the CPM to ignore as it prepared to answer the verdict of no rallies between 8 am and 8 pm.

n The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is trying to put Bengal on investors’ radar screens and a prolonged confrontation with the judiciary over an issue that has a bearing on industry may negate all the good work;

n The government’s constitutional obligation to uphold a court order; and

n An opinion within the Front against adopting a hard stand against the high court.

When Jyoti Basu, Anil Biswas and Biman Bose — all CPM politburo members — went into yesterday’s convention to protest against the high court order with other Front leaders, they had these realities in sight.

They kept the rhetoric hot to boost the morale of the cadre, but after insulating Bhattacharjee and his team from the heat.

Bhattacharjee was not present. A few ministers were, but they melted into the background.

“The idea is two-fold. At one level, a message goes out to the rank and file, saying the 26-year-old Front is still full of fight and nobody messes with it. At another, a wide, discriminating and powerful audience of voters, industrialists, media, and future collaborators in development is told that the government is loyal to its constitutional obligations and does not mix the business of governance with partisan politics,” a senior official said.

In the days ahead, the leadership will flesh out the political campaign only after assessing how it may recoil on the government’s goals.

Some of the progress reports from ministers like Nirupam Sen and Manab Mukherjee, who are in charge of departments that deal with industry, and from Somnath Chatterjee, who chairs the industrial development corporation, will also engage the attention of the leadership.

A string of business delegations, some from foreign countries, will visit Calcutta within the next few days — not a time to stage a showdown with the judiciary.

“Friendly pressure” from a section of industrialists close to the government and the leadership is also believed to have forced the search for a restrained response to the situation arising out of the court verdict.

The leadership had initially planned to co-opt the chief minister, his colleagues and legislators into the defiance it had planned of the court verdict.

after talks with legal experts, realisation dawned that the elected people’s representatives, having taken the oath of office by the Constitution, could not associate themselves with a campaign against the court.

“They (leadership) realised that a court order, until it is set aside by a higher court, is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. So, there is no way ministers or MLAs can be involved with an anti-court programme,” an official said.

A section of CPM leaders, who have been advising caution, has also achieved results. This group has convinced the leadership that a movement against the court order should be launched by trade unions and not the government.

“If the government leads a programme of defiance, how can it expect its own employees to come on time'” they asked.

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