The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party chooses Biswas successor
Bose and Sen

Calcutta, March 27: On Friday, the CPM will announce its secretary in Bengal to replace Anil Biswas who died yesterday.

After Biswas’s body was donated to a medical college in a huge procession from the Bengal party headquarters in Alimuddin Street, general secretary Prakash Karat said the state committee would elect the new leader on that day.

“The sole agenda for Friday’s state committee meeting is to elect our new secretary,” Karat said. The party’s central committee and politburo will have a joint session before the state committee meeting.

Sitaram Yechury, a politburo member, revealed at the party office that the new secretary had already been decided, which means ratification by the state committee is a formality.

Party sources said the CPM secretariat, the highest decision-making body at the state level which usually meets every Friday, will put its seal of approval on Biswas’s successor at its morning session. The state committee meeting will follow.

A week ago, the leadership had announced through Karat that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and politburo member and Left Front chairman Biman Bose would together guide the party into the Assembly elections, starting April 17.

Observers said the announcement itself was almost a certain indication that the politburo had more or less decided on the successor but chose to keep quiet as it was still hoping for Biswas’s recovery.

By putting Bose in joint charge of the party’s election effort, it had indicated its choice. At the time, it had seemed the party would wait until after the polls to name a successor.

Today’s decision to announce one before then implies that the leadership does not want supporters to be burdened with any confusion. It had sought to calm nerves immediately after Biswas suffered the cerebral stroke by putting Bhattacharjee and Bose in charge and has now taken care of any residuary jitters.

A condolence meeting for Biswas at Sahid Minar to be held on the same day will see the party unveil its new secretary before the faithful. Since the party always moves in a ritualistic fashion, it is difficult to look beyond Bose as successor, though Nirupam Sen, the industries minister, is an equally strong choice.

Apart from the fact that the party has already put him in joint charge of the polls, Bose is the seniormost politburo member after Jyoti Basu and Citu leader Chittabrata Majumdar. Besides, he has always been an organisation man.

Sen, too, was immersed in organisation before being plucked out to head the key ministry. But because his role in the government is so important the party might not want to disturb him.

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