The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM prods front towards Cong
- The day after: Parties kickstart strategy sessions and put setbacks under the scalpel

Calcutta, May 14: Reservations of its allies about the Congress in 1999 fresh in the memory, the CPM has called a meeting of the Left Front constituents in Delhi to discuss support to a government led by Sonia Gandhi’s party.

“We are all meeting in Delhi on Sunday to clinch the support-Congress line. The need of the hour is to lend support to the Congress to keep the BJP at bay,” front chairman Biman Bose said today before leaving for Delhi to attend the CPM politburo and central committee meetings beginning tomorrow.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Jyoti Basu flew to the capital as well.

Minutes after a front meeting at the CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street, Bose said the party would help Congress president Sonia form a government at the Centre.

“Our party congress in Hyderabad two years ago backed the support-Congress line to oust the BJP-led coalition from Delhi. Now, the situation demands that we should lend support to the Congress. The politburo and central committee will discuss that in Delhi,” Bose said.

Bhattacharjee was not as unequivocal as Bose. The chief minister said: “Let us discuss it first.”

At the front meeting, Bose tried to convince the partners about the need to extend support to a Congress-led government. The Forward Bloc and the RSP had expressed unwillingness to enter into any sort of understanding with their main rival in the state.

“We have made it clear that the party will maintain equidistance from the Congress and the BJP,” RSP central secretariat member Sunil Sengupta said today but quickly added: “Our central leadership will meet in Delhi for four days from Sunday to sort out the issue.”

The Bloc, which had decided not to support the Congress under any circumstances, today seemed to soften its stand. “Our central leadership will take a decision. But we must know if the Congress is serious about seeking our support to form a government,” Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh said.

One election over, the front focus shifted to another. Nineteen civic bodies, including the municipal corporations of Asansol and Siliguri, are going to polls on June 27. Bose said: “We know our leaders and workers are tired but there’s no time to rest.”

Smarting under the humiliation of being wiped out from the state, the BJP decided to probe the possible reasons for the reverse. “We are investigating if organisational lapses led to the party’s poll debacle,” state unit president Tathagata Roy said.

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