Somnath Chatterjee wanted to be president, vice-president: CPI-M

July 24th, 2008 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  


Agartala, July 24 (IANS) Expelled Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was an aspirant for the posts of the country’s president and vice president last year, a senior party leader said here Thursday. “Chatterjee had pressurised the party (CPI-M) to nominate him as candidate for the post of president last year and told the party that he would persuade the Congress to accept his candidature, but the party leaders refused the demand,” said CPI-M central committee member Badal Chowdhury.

“Afterward, Chatterjee insisted that the party recommend his name as nominee for the post of vice president, but the party rejected it again,” Chowdhury, also Tripura finance minister, told a party meeting at Santir Bazar in south Tripura.

The CPI-M Wednesday expelled Chatterjee, who turns 79 Friday, after he defied the party directive to give up the speaker’s post ahead of a trust vote that went against the Left parties and was finally won by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government Tuesday.

Chowdhury, also a former Lok Sabha member, said : “In 1996, Chatterjee as leader of the CPI-M parliamentary group invited the party’s Lok Sabha members to his New Delhi residence to collect signatures to persuade the party to join the then H.D. Devegowda-led United Front government. That effort also went in vain.”

According to the minister, the expelled Marxist leader during the trust vote proceedings had advocated in favour of the UPA government.

The CPI-M decision to expel Chatterjee from the Marxist party evoked mixed response among various political circles in the Left-ruled northeastern state of Tripura.

The main opposition Congress termed the CPI-M’s decision as unfortunate and unethical.

“Now the Congress can use the services of the veteran and experienced leader by appointing him an ambassador to a prominent country or governor of an important state in India,” said state Congress spokesperson Tapas Dey.

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