The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Basu stokes fire before peace shot
Bhattacharjee and Basu: Fingers on their lips

Calcutta, Aug. 4: Jyoti Basu expects a full-fledged discussion at tomorrow’s CPM state secretariat meeting on the Cricket Association of Bengal elections and its president Jagmohan Dalmiya, about whom Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee hasn’t concealed his reservations.

“I want a threadbare discussion on the CAB elections tomorrow. I have not been keeping well, but I shall attend the meeting,” the CPM patriarch told The Telegraph today.

His statement on the eve of the meeting of the state CPM’s highest policy-making body is significant because the party brass had over the past month maintained that it would stay away from the CAB polls.

The chief minister had wanted Dalmiya to end his 14-year reign at Eden Gardens “for the sake of Bengal cricket” and foisted his own candidate, police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee, for president.

Dalmiya first rejected the chief minister’s quit call and then beat the police chief in the election, angering Bhattacharjee so much that he called the cricket administrator an evil force which had triumphed. “A victory of evil over good,” the chief minister called the Dalmiya group’s win.

Many of Bhattacharjee’s party and cabinet colleagues deserted him during his wrest-Eden campaign, publicly or in private.

Basu, who had objected to the nomination of Mukherjee for the cricket body, virtually criticised his successor for his moral grandstanding after the election. “The CPM secretariat should dwell on the issue as it would not be fair to criticise a person who had been democratically elected as CAB president,” the former chief minister said.

He also demanded that Dalmiya respond to the charges levelled against him.

CPM insiders today said the party shrugged off its decision to keep a distance after recognising ground realities and the need to disarm the personalities involved.

State party secretary Biman Bose and some others, who have softened Basu and Bhattacharjee in the past four days, are believed to have structured a peace formula under which the “personalities” will retreat into the background.

The leadership had initially mulled a discussion on the sidelines of the secretariat meeting, but as things stand now, CAB might occupy a good part of the main course.

Basu and Bhattacharjee are expected to not offer their views on the issue after the meeting, leaving Bose to handle it from the party’s standpoint.

Sources close to Basu said feelers had been sent to the 93-year-old over the past few days with a request to “stay away from the issue”.

Sports minister Subhas Chakraborty, who had earlier slammed the government’s intervention in CAB affairs, told a television channel today that he would not comment on the polls “despite provocation”.

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