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Fallen heroes in Left's facelift

Saubhadra Chatterji  |  New Delhi 

The CPI(M) never believed in personality cult, depending more on its cadre-based organisation. But now, after the electoral debacle, a section of the party is banking on its fallen heroes to take on General Secretary Prakash Karat and Co.

Outgoing Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who was never favoured by Karat as the latter had always sided with Kerala party unit chief Pinarayi Vijayan, has been strongly recommended for the post of the leader of opposition in the new Kerala Assembly. A section of the party is also trying to bring West Bengal’s politically disgraced Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to attend the politburo meeting on Monday and attack Karat for his faulty electoral judgement.

The available members of the politburo met on Saturday in Delhi, where Achuthanandan’s name was strongly pitched for the post of the leader of opposition in the Kerala assembly. According to sources, while Karat was still reluctant to see VS taking the top opposition post, he was sharply reminded by a few members that VS was the only saving grace for the party that was red-faced in these assembly elections.

The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front in Kerala lost power by just three seats and VS’ presence is believed to be the main force behind this fight against the Congress-led United Democratic Front. VS was initially denied ticket by the Karat and Pinarayi lobby, but finally managed a berth because of pressure from leaders like Sitaram Yechury and Manik Sarkar.

In West Bengal, the incumbent Health Minister Suryakant Mishra is the central leadership’s choice as the Leader of Opposition after 26 out of 34 ministers, including Bhattacharjee, lost the elections. Mishra is the sole member of the party’s state secretariat who won a seat. Mishra, too, is not known to be a Karat-loyalist in the party circles.

As usual, Bhattacharjee has informed the Delhi leadership that he is not keen to attend the politburo meet on Monday, which will take stock of the situation after the assembly polls. But even his supporters at the party headquarters don’t approve of the “sulking in solitude” attitude of the CM. They want him to come to Delhi and challenge Karat and pour out the grievances of the Bengal unit. Bhattacharjee has been skipping politburo meetings regularly since the Lok Sabha poll debacle.

The politburo meeting is not likely to see serious fireworks, according to insiders in A K Gopalan Bhawan, the CPI(M) headquarters. “We will have to wait for the assessment of the respective state committees before discussing the issue at the centre. The state committee meeting in Bengal will start only on May 17,” said a politburo member. A central committee meeting is due next month and there, Karat may face uncomfortable questions, according to party insiders.

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First Published: Sun, May 15 2011. 00:41 IST