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Sunday , February 19 , 2012
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Buddha boot kicks, finally

Calcutta, Feb. 18: The CPM today dropped from its state committee four tainted but powerful members and nine prominent veterans after a gruelling 11-hour session that exposed the bitter factional feud in the party.

The tainted four got the axe for having “tarnished’’ the CPM’s image over the years and contributing to the party’s dismal performance in the 2011 Assembly elections.

The ageing leaders were eased out as the party attempts to rebuild the organisation and get an image makeover. Some of them, including Benoy Konar, Kanti Biswas and Hashim Abdul Halim, had asked to be excluded, a CPM leader said.

The 83-member committee, elected in the presence of general secretary Prakash Karat, also reflects former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s attempt to have his way in “cleansing’’ the party after admitting the Left government’s failures during the party’s state conference, a leader said.

By dropping East Midnapore strongman Lakshman Seth, the party showed that Bhattacharjee’s writ prevailed as he had always “disapproved’’ of the former MP. The former chief minister had often told colleagues that Nandigram may not have flared up had it not been for the attempt by the Haldia Development Authority, at Seth’s behest, to identify land for the creation of a proposed chemical hub.

The last nail in the coffin for Seth was the revelation that he was running a medical college in Haldia suppressing facts from the Medical Council of India, a CPM leader said.

Hooghly’s Anil Basu, known to often shoot off his mouth, had made distasteful personal remarks against Mamata Banerjee before the elections and was censured by the party. Again, it was Bhattacharjee who told the CPM leadership such people should be “kept away from the limelight and power’’.

Former MP Amitava Nandi got the boot for promoting factionalism in the North 24-Parganas unit. “In Nandi’s case too, Buddhada had his way. When Buddhada was chief minister, he had told a Trinamul MLA of North 24-Parganas that his district party was suffering because of Nandi’s factional politics,’’ a party leader said.

Rajdeo Goala’s exclusion is being attributed to his bid to create divisions in the Calcutta district unit of the CPM.

“In fact, during the election of candidates, Buddhada agreed with the dominant section of the Calcutta district committee that Goala should not be given a ticket because of his factional politics, like Nandi,’’ a CPM leader said.

Unlike the tainted four, many of the ageing leaders were kept out of the state committee on their own request. The move to drop veterans had begun when the party’s district conferences were held from December last year, CPM leaders pointed out.

Samar Mukherjee, who will turn 100 in November, has been excluded on health grounds. Benode Das, a former secretary of the Hooghly unit, had been pleading with the party for a long time to be “excused’’. Benoy Konar, who lives in Alimuddin Street and has not been keeping well over the past four-five years, “opted out’’. Kanti Biswas and former Speaker Halim had also expressed unwillingness to stay put in the state committee, said a CPM leader.

“During our four-day state conference, our delegates acknowledged the contribution of these veterans over the decades and the role they played in strengthening the organisation when it was in power. However, taking note of their health and inability to perform on these grounds, the party leadership decided to spare them,’’ a CPM state secretariat member said.

A section in the CPM said the move was also meant to send the message that party leaders should not expect to hold their positions till death, a source said.

“After having badly lost the elections, we cannot afford to continue with people who cannot work. Many of those dropped had been holding party positions for several terms in their districts. We now need people who can run around for organisational work,’’ the source added.

Some of the veterans have been made permanent invitees to the state committee but this would make them “powerless’’. “Some 22 leaders have been dropped mainly because of age and health reasons,’’ Mohammad Salim said.

Around 12 fresh faces have been brought into the new state committee to “infuse young blood and experience’’. Former ministers Anisur Rahman and Anadi Sahoo, Sudarshan Roy Chowdhury, Bhattacharjee loyalist Nepaldeb Bhattacharya, Malda’s and Nadia’s newly elected district secretaries Ambar Mitra and Sumit De, and SFI leader Sayandip Mitra have made it to the state committee. “We needed new faces as we want to build a new organisation,’’ Salim said.