Poll debacle collective responsibility, Karat to stay on: CPI-M (Roundup)

May 18th, 2009 - 11:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath Chatterjee New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) Meeting for over eight hours Monday, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Monday refused to hold any individual responsible for its worst poll drubbing and ruled out general secretary Prakash Karat’s resignation over it.
Simultaneously, even as West Bengal Chief Minister Budhadeb Bhattacharjee abstained from the politburo meeting, the party gave conflicting indications whether he had offered to quit.

Senior leader Sitaram Yechury said Bhattacharjee did not make any such offer, “not before us”.

But when asked if the chief minister had made such an offer before the state secretariat, he told reporters here after the politburo meeting: “That I don’t know.”

As for Bhattacharjee’s absence, Yechury said his presence was necessary in the state “because there is apprehension of violence in West Bengal. He is not just the chief minister, but also the home minister.”

In Kolkata, Bhattacharjee refused to answer persistent questions from reporters on the speculation.

Asked if Karat would step down owning responsibility, CPI-M politburo member Nirupam Sen responded told IANS he emerged from the politburo meeting: “Why should he resign?”

West Bengal CPI-M secretary and politburo member Biman Bose said an individual could not be blamed for the drubbing.

In the meantime, a meeting of the Central Committee, the CPI-M’s highest decision making body that has the powers to overrule the politburo, scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled.

Somnath Chatterjee, who was expelled from the party after he refused to step down as Lok Sabha speaker when the Left Front withdrew support to the Manmohan Singh government ahead of the trust vote over the India-US nuclear deal last year, said Karat “should consider quitting” since he held the “top most” post.

“The needle of responsibility obviously is pointed at him,” he said in a signed article in the Bengali daily Ananda Bazaar Patrika.

Nirupam Sen said there was no question of either him or 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.

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.

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