The Telegraph
Monday , July 11 , 2016

State CPM takes on Delhi hawks

Calcutta, July 10: The Bengal CPM today accused the politburo of "insulting and disrespecting" the verdict of 2.15 crore people who had voted for the Left-Congress alliance in the Assembly polls and dared the central leadership to disband the state committee if it felt that the electoral tactic was wrong.

The state unit struck the defiant note at a state committee meeting in Alimuddin Street in the presence of CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and his predecessor Prakash Karat, both of whom are politburo members.

At a late-night state secretariat meeting, Bengal CPM chief Surjya Kanta Mishra is learnt to have said a "state-specific organisational plenum" would be held from September 30 to October 2 to discuss the alliance issue.

Usually, plenums are held to take organisational, not electoral, decisions between party congresses. By convention, the central committee or the politburo calls plenums. This is a rare occasion where a state unit is convening it. The next party congress is in 2018.

So bitter was the mood at the state committee meeting that references were made to the "historic blunder" of 1996 which denied Jyoti Basu the Prime Minister's post.

The Bengal leadership stood by its decision in the face of a central committee note in June that held that the arrangement was "not in consonance" with the political-tactical line of the party and should be rectified. The choice of words - diluted from "violated" to "not in consonance" - reflected a tussle between the hardliners and others in the central leadership.

If the Bengal unit holds its ground, it is expected to help Yechury, who is said to be facing hostility from a range of hardliners who dominate most state units and the central committee.

Asked what transpired at today's meeting, a CPM leader said: "Our comrades did not mince words while talking about the necessity of taking forward the Left-Congress alliance. They accused the politburo members of disrupting the process of forging a broad-based unity of Left and other democratic forces, including the Congress."

According to the leader, state committee member Moinul Hasan said the politburo had insulted and disrespected the verdict of the 2.15 crore people who had voted for the tie-up, which the Bengal unit struck despite strong opposition from an influential section of the central leadership identified with Karat and the Kerala unit.

"The mood was confrontational. We said the central leadership can disband our state committee and form a new one if it feels that we violated the party line. But they simply cannot disrespect the support that 2.15 crore people gave us," a CPM state committee leader said after the session.

CPM leaders from Bengal such as Hasan, Shamik Lahiri and Rahul Ghosh lashed out at the central leadership and recounted how the politburo and the central committee had "hurt the pride of Bengal" by disallowing then chief minister Basu from becoming Prime Minister in 1996 and how former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was expelled by the party for having refused to step down in July 2008.

The Bengal CPM pointed out that the politburo had had no problem supporting the UPA-I government in 2004 but was now criticising the state unit's hand-holding with the Congress, when the need of the hour was to combat Trinamul and the "communal politics" of the BJP.

"When the BJP bogey was raised to justify the CPM's support to the Congress-led UPA-I government, the politburo had supported it. But when we in Bengal joined hands with the Congress to fight the BJP and Trinamul, the politburo resented it. What sort of opportunistic politics is this?" Hasan was quoted as asking at the meeting.

It is learnt that the state leadership referred to the spat between Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and mass leader V.S. Achuthanandan, saying the politburo could do little to prevent their "public sparring" but was prompt in taking a harsh stand against the Bengal unit's "pro-people decision".

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