Karat to stay, no individual responsible for debacle: CPI-M (Lead)

May 18th, 2009 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath Chatterjee New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) Meeting in the wake of its worst poll showing, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Monday ruled out the stepping down of party general secretary Prakash Karat over the issue and said no individual could be held responsible for the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections.
“Why should he resign?” responded CPI-M politburo member Nirupam Sen to a question by IANS, as he emerged from a meeting of the party’s politburo here, which continued for well over eight hours. Another leader Biman Bose said an individual could not be blamed for the drubbing.

However, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who was expelled from the party after he refused to step down as Speaker when the Left front withdrew support to the government during the July 22 trust vote over the India-US nuclear deal last year, said the leadership must own up the defeat and quit.

“My view is that the leadership has to take responsibility for the disaster. Prakash Karat is holding the topmost post. The needle of responsibility obviously is pointed at him. And I have already said the leadership should consider quitting if its conscience permits,” said the veteran leader in a signed article in Bengali daily Ananda Bazaar Patrika.

Nirupam Sen said there was no question of either him or West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee quitting over the election results, which have relegated the party to the eighth position from being the third largest in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

West Bengal CPI-M secretary and politburo member Biman Bose defended Karat and Bhattacharjee, stating: “No individual is responsible for the party’s defeat.”

“We could not campaign properly in West Bengal. We will have detailed discussions to search the reasons (for the defeat) at a meeting on May 24,” Bose told reporters.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, responding to questions, said all issues, including the controversy over party leader Pinarayi Vijayan’s alleged involvement in the SMC Lavalin scam and the party’s joining hands with the allegedly fundamentalist People’s Democratic Party in Kerala, would be discussed at the May 24 meeting.

Achuthanandan was at loggerheads with Karat over the latter’s backing for Vijayan, who as electricity minister had allegedly wrongly awarded contracts for purchase of equipment to Canadian company SMC Lavalin. The chief minister wanted to initiate action against him but Karat defended Vijayan saying he was framed.

Huge electoral setbacks in the CPI-M bastions of West Bengal and Kerala have left the party with a mere 16 seats, down from the 43 it won in 2004. The four-party Left grouping has been reduced to 24 from 60 - its worst poll showing in three decades.

The CPI-M finished with three seats less than the Trinamool Congress, its archrival in West Bengal, in the 2009 polls.

Earlier, Nirupam Sen denied that the party’s reverses were because of the West Bengal government’s industrial policies and said the “election was fought on national issues and not on state issues”.

“We will continue with our policies,” said Sen, who is the state industries minister.

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