Left urges Somnath to quit, Congress readies successor (Lead)

July 9th, 2008 - 11:01 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) The Left parties have urged Somnath Chatterjee to quit the post of the Lok Sabha Speaker though Communist leader Prakash karat said he would decide his future himself. The Congress, meanwhile, has zeroed in on a candidate to fill in the vacancy. According to Left sources, Communist leaders met the veteran parliamentarian and urged him to consider quitting the post in the light of the Communist parties’ withdrawal of support to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government following their differences over the India-US nuclear deal.

In fact, Chatterjee’s name, as a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP, is included in the letter the four Left parties jointly presented to President Pratibha Patil Wednesday, formally withdrawing the support to the government.

However, CPI-M general secretary Karat told a news conference: “He (Chatterjee) will decide for himself and will take a decision.”

Talking to a TV channel earlier, Chatterjee said: “Leave it to me, I am still the speaker.”

Chatterjee was elected the Lok Sabha speaker following an understanding between the Left and the UPA after the 2004 parliamentary elections.

The Congress, meanwhile, has finalised its plans to fill in the vacancy in case Chatterjee quit. The party leadership has zeroed in on Kishore Chandra Deo.

Deo, a Scheduled Tribes leader representing Parvathipuram in Andhra Pradesh, is chairman of the Lok Sabha privileges committee.

“Once the party finalises the name, we will propose it to our UPA allies. The final decision will be taken after consensus,” a senior central minister said on condition of anonymity.

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