Chatterjee’s expulsion unfortunate, but CPI-M had no option: Karat (Lead)

July 24th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Somnath Chatterjee

Hyderabad, July 24 (IANS) A day after expelling Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee from the party, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat Thursday said his party had “no option” other than to take a disciplinary action against the senior Marxist. “It is unfortunate that we had to take the decision (to expel Chatterjee). It was not a happy thing to do but we had no other option,” Karat told the media here.

Chatterjee was free to appeal to the party’s central control commission against the expulsion, the general secretary added.

He said his party “did not want to say anything that will create controversy about the speaker’s post”.

“The matter is over as far as we are concerned. We have exercised the disciplinary action as per our party mandate,” he said when asked about the attempts being made by the Congress to persuade Chatterjee to continue as the speaker.

“I have stated that it is for the speaker to decide whether or not to continue. It is up to him. But whether he will continue as a party member is a decision that we (the CPI-M) will take,” said Karat who has been in the eye of a storm following the crisis over the India-US civil nuclear deal and subsequently Chatterjee’s expulsion from the party.

He said during the trust motion his party did not do anything which interfered in the role of the speaker.

Chatterjee had been associated with the CPI-M for 40 years.

For the first time since the row over Chatterjee’s continuance as speaker erupted, Karat outlined the proceedings that had taken place within his party leading to the expulsion.

The CPI-M leadership wanted Chatterjee to give up the post of Lok Sabha speaker after the 59-bloc Left Front withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“From July 9, 2008, we became part of the opposition. The central committee at its two-day meeting July 19 and 20 decided that no party member should remain speaker after the Left parties had withdrawn support to the UPA government,” said Karat.

He reminded that Chatterjee became speaker at the request of the ruling Congress and because the CPI-M was part of the Left Front supporting the government.

“After the central committee meeting we communicated our decision to Chatterjee. But he did not want to step down,” said the CPI-M general secretary.

He added: “The central committee had authorised us to take a decision. We did not want to do so during the special session and waited till it was over to take the disciplinary action.”

The CPI-M leader demanded that the speaker make public the tapes submitted to him by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) about the attempts made to bribe some party MPs.

“The minority government has become majority but that does not give it any legitimacy,” he said and alleged that the government had exposed itself to serious charges of bribery, intimidation and horse-trading.

To a query, he said the UPA government could not go ahead on the nuclear deal in the absence of political consensus in the country.

He alleged that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh misled the entire nation on the nuclear deal. “He (the PM) said he would not go to the IAEA board but he went there,” Karat said.

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