The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Politburo split, over to central cell
- Party admits ‘different perceptions’ on support to UPA

Calcutta, Sept. 28: The CPM central committee will discuss the fate of the Left-UPA relationship over the next two days as the politburo today apparently failed to resolve differences on the steps to be taken if the Centre pressed ahead with the nuclear deal.

Asked whether there were any differences, politburo member and Citu general secretary M.K. Pandhe said: “There may be different perceptions but the decision will be taken unanimously. When I say that, it covers everything.’’

Jyoti Basu, the senior-most politburo member, had also hinted at the differences a few days ago. “We will go by the majority’s opinion. But I hope the decision would be unanimous,’’ Basu had said.

Basu as well as general-secretary Prakash Karat refused to disclose what transpired at today’s meeting. “I won’t say anything. Let the CC (central committee) discuss tomorrow,” Basu said at the end of the meeting at the CPM state headquarters.

Karat appeared to be confident of carrying the party with him. “Then you have to wait for the CC’s decision and find out who stands where,’’ he told The Telegraph, asked to comment on the perception that other party leaders were willing to give the Congress a longer rope than he was willing to concede.

“We will discuss both,’’ Sitaram Yechury replied to a question whether the deliberations would focus on withdrawal of support or the agitation against the government on the nuclear deal.

At its last meeting, the central committee was keen to ensure that the nuclear standoff did not affect the UPA government immediately. But it authorised the politburo to decide the course of action if the government pursued India-specific safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, the persistent differences in the politburo on the party’s tactical line have once again necessitated a discussion in the larger forum of the central committee.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Basu, state CPM secretary Biman Bose and Yechury are learnt to have advocated a “wait-and-watch policy” to avoid a mid-term poll, both in view of the threat of the BJP-led NDA’s return and the Left’s lack of preparation for elections.

While Bhattacharjee, Basu and Yechury had been hopeful of a breakthrough by the Left-UPA joint mechanism on the nuclear deal, Karat declined to comment.

Asked whether he expected anything positive from the meeting between foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee and US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday in the US, Karat said: “How can I know what transpired between them in New York' I don’t have that kind of contact.”

Yechury, who did not join the first half of the politburo meeting apparently because of his preoccupation with a parliamentary standing committee meeting in Delhi, and Bhattacharjee are believed to be in contact with the UPA leadership.

But other leaders seemed to be willing to buy time. “We have to give it (the Left-UPA joint mechanism on the deal) time to deliver. That’s why we are persuading the government to not operationalise the deal while negotiations are going on with us,’’ Pandhe said.

He indicated that there were also differences on whether the party should demand scrapping the entire nuclear deal or exert pressure to “ensure better safeguards in the country’s interest”. “We will discuss all these aspects in the CC,’’ he said.

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