The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM finger up, Subhas waits

Calcutta, Jan. 19: The CPM today issued a formal statement asking sports minister Subhas Chakraborty not to contest the Cricket Association of Bengal election.

“Our party as well as the government is not involved in the CAB presidential election. Comrade Subhas Chakraborty has been asked not to contest the poll,” the party said in a terse statement.

Chakraborty, who reached Calcutta from Bangalore tonight, said: “I have nothing new to say. I will speak to the leadership. I will say what I have to say on January 22.”

Nominations for the CAB election can be filed till 5.30 pm on January 24.

The sports minister, who had said in Bangalore on Tuesday that he would convince the leadership and contest, had refrained from making any public statement today till he reached Calcutta.

The CPM decision followed a morning meeting of the party’s state secretariat, which was attended by Jyoti Basu, who had yesterday said Chakraborty’s decision to contest was not a party matter.

The party stepped in after the controversy threatened to assume overtones of an intra-government feud as police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee, who has filed papers to run for CAB president, is being perceived as chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s choice.

Neither a grim-faced Basu nor state party secretary Biman Bose spoke to reporters. Basu usually interacts with the media after weekly secretariat meetings. Emerging from the meeting, the chief minister looked at ease.

Veteran secretariat member Benoy Konar, who had opposed Chakraborty and supported Mukherjee’s right to contest, hinted that differences cropped up at the meeting but said the decision was “unanimous”. “We may have had several opinions at our meeting but ultimately, consensus emerged,’’ he said.

While a section of party insiders interpreted Basu’s silence as a sign of his unhappiness at the turn of events, state housing minister and CPM secretariat member Gautam Deb said: “Jyotibabu has not built the party to break it on the petty issue of CAB poll.’’

For most of the state leaders, the “cricket chapter is closed”. A secretariat member and state Citu president Shyamal Chakraborty said: “Our party has more pressing problems to consider. After today’s decision, it’s over.”

But others are waiting for Chakraborty’s response, though many leaders feel the party would prevail over him, at least for now. The belief is based on Chakraborty’s long record of precipitating matters but stepping back from the brink.

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