The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM goes for facelift on the floor
- Bengal ticket for Delhi residents

June 28: Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury, who have nothing to do with Bengal, will represent the state in the Rajya Sabha for the CPM that had made a big fuss about Congress leaders going to the House from places where they did not live.

For Brinda, it is proving to be a year of big harvest, having become the CPM’s first woman politburo member two months ago. For Yechury, the nomination ' announced by Bengal party secretary Anil Biswas today ' should remove any disappointment he might have felt when the CPM did not accept Sonia Gandhi’s offer to send him up from Andhra Pradesh.

It’s hard to miss the irony, though, that instead of home state Andhra, he will now speak for Bengal ' oh, yes, he speaks the language all right. Some would say better than Brinda who is Bengali by birth but has spent most of her life outside the state.

In 2003, the Representation of the People Act was amended, discarding the need for a candidate to be domiciled in the state that was nominating him to the Rajya Sabha. It was challenged in the Supreme Court which first ordered a stay, vacating it a year ago.

By nominating two non-domiciled members, the CPM is playing within the law but not living up to the principle on which it had criticised Manmohan Singh (from Assam) and Pranab Mukherjee (from Gujarat).

“True, we once opposed, we still oppose election of Rajya Sabha MPs from states where they are not domiciled,” said Jyoti Basu, politburo member, “but today’s decision reflects a political necessity.”

Brinda, also the wife of CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, and Yechury are two of the party’s best-known faces, telegenic outside and will be articulate inside the House where the party is trying to strengthen its presence.

They will fill two of the six Bengal seats that fall vacant in August. Chittabrata Majumdar and Abani Roy have been renominated.

“Anil Biswas called me up this morning and informed me of the party decision,” said Brinda. Yechury is in Canada and will be back in the capital on Monday.

Weren’t there any candidates from Bengal'

“We preferred Yechury and (Brinda) Karat because they are products of class and mass struggles. Also, they are based in Delhi,” said Biswas.

Brinda was in the middle of a “struggle” even today, taking part in a protest in Delhi.

As if offering a pacifier to possible malcontents, Biswas said: “Some seats from Bengal will fall vacant after eight months and some more in 2007. We will nominate our leaders from Bengal that time.”

Sources said the seat vacated by Shankar Roy Chowdhury, an independent MP, could be filled by a Calcutta-based economist known to be close to the CPM.

Arjun Sengupta, also an economist who is based in Delhi, threw his hat into the ring after meeting chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today. “If I get Left support, I would be happy to work for Bengal,” said Sengupta.

Once, the road to world revolution was said to pass through Calcutta. Now for the CPM, the road to the Rajya Sabha starts from Calcutta.


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