PM calls on Somnath Chatterjee

July 24th, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Somnath Chatterjee

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) A day after he was expelled by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Thursday got an early morning visitor — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The meeting at Chatterjee’s residence lasted for a little over 30 minutes. Though it was not clear what transpired, Congress party insiders hinted that Prime Minister Singh assured Chatterjee that his party would completely back him in this moment of crisis.

The prime minister is also expected to call on President Pratibha Patil and Vice President Hamid Ansari later in the day. His government won the trust vote in parliament Tuesday with a comfortable victory of 275/256.

The next day, the CPI-M expelled Chatterjee for defying the party’s appeals to give up the post ahead of a trust vote the government won. The veteran parliamentarian had been with the party for four decades.

His expulsion has evoked mixed responses from the political class, especially West Bengal’s political leaders.

While the Left leaders justified the move, the Trinamool Congress said it was long overdue. The Congress termed it as the “darkest day in Indian parliamentary democracy”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, described it as the first sign of the “the Red Fort crumbling”.

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