The Telegraph
Thursday , February 27 , 2014
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CPM expels rebel Rezzak

Calcutta, Feb. 26: The CPM state secretariat today expelled rebel MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah for his “anti-party activities’’, ending a who-blinks-first game between him and the party that tolerated his regular outbursts against the leadership over the past two-and-a-half years.

The leadership had been contemplating action for long but held back because some sections advocated a wait-and-watch approach as Mollah happened to be the Muslim face of the organisation, said a source at the Alimuddin Street headquarters of the state CPM.

Finally, the decision was taken at a state secretariat meeting this evening.

A statement issued by the CPM state committee tonight said: “It has been decided to expel Comrade Rezzak Mollah from the party for serious anti-party activities and for tarnishing the image of the party in public….”

The statement did not list the “anti-party activities”. But some CPM leaders said that Rezzak’s expulsion was a foregone conclusion because of his last Sunday’s public pronouncement, in which he said that Samajik Nyaybichar Mancha — an NGO floated by him to press for the rights of Dalits and Muslims — would field candidates in the 2016 Assembly polls.

Although Mollah, 72, had said that his umbrella organisation would steer clear of Trinamul, his decision to contest the polls was viewed in Alimuddin as an attempt to set up a parallel organisation.

“How long can the party tolerate such acts?’’ asked CPM state secretariat member and South 24-Parganas district secretary Sujan Chakraborty. “There is a provision in the party for summarily expelling any leader. We did that, after showing enough tolerance. It was a tough decision,” he added.

Mollah, an MLA since 1972, has done almost everything —from attacking the party line to floating an identity-based organisation — to invite disciplinary action as differences of opinion are kept closely guarded secrets in the “regimented” party.

Even before Mamata Banerjee started a farm-versus-factory debate in the state by opposing acquisition of farmland for industry, Mollah had raised his voice against his government’s land use policy way back in 2005 and written a letter to then party secretary Anil Biswas.

Although Mollah was overruled as then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had the backing of the party and the entire cabinet, he continued with his diatribe against Bhattacharjee and industries minister Nirupam Sen. The pitch intensified after the 2011 debacle in the Assembly polls.

But Mollah got away each time, except for a mild private censure and a caution, and resumed the attack afresh.

In recent months, his relationship with the party had hit a nadir. He has been staying away from CPM state committee meetings without informing the leadership. He has also been critical of the party’s decision to field Ritabrata Banerjee as a Rajya Sabha candidate, besides questioning the hegemony of leaders from the upper castes in the party’s leadership.

“Some of the points that he has been raising were valid and a lot of people in the party liked him for providing an alternative line…. But he overplayed his card by talking about fielding candidates in the 2016 elections,” said a state committee member.

Some Left insiders, however, said that whatever Mollah did was based on a gameplan and he was prepared for the expulsion from the party, a view echoed by Mollah’s immediate reaction after the expulsion. “Most welcome,” Mollah said.

When this newspaper asked him whether he felt sad after serving the party for around five decades, he said: “Ekdom na (not at all)”.

Given the way Mollah reoriented his social activities in the last two-and-a-half years — from going on Haj to floating an NGO for Dalits and Muslims — there is hardly any possibility that he would retire from public life.

“Why should I tell you what I am going to do?” he asked.

Sources said his possible next move and its impact on the CPM had become the focal point of discussions in Alimuddin. Although he has a significant following in South 24-Parganas, his home district, party leaders were convinced that his expulsion would not have any major impact as his most trusted lieutenants have already defected to Trinamul.

As he had been raising ideological questions, some are drawing a parallel between his move and the breakaway by Saifuddin Chowdhury and Samir Putatunda from the CPM in 2001 and formation of the Party for Democratic Socialism.

“PDS during its formation had said they were against Congress, BJP, Trinamul and the Left Front… But then they shared the dais with Mamata during the Singur movement. I will not be surprised if Rezzakda joins hands with Trinamul,” said a CPM insider.

When Mollah was asked this evening whether Trinamul all India general secretary Mukul Roy was in touch him, he firmly denied it.

A section in CPM felt that Mollah was unlikely to join hands with Trinamul at this juncture and would wait for the Lok Sabha outcome.

“Rezzakda has been trying hard to project an image of an identity-based politician and trying to reach out to the Muslims and Dalits in the state… In all likelihood, he will try to form an axis along identity lines,” said another CPM source.