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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Buddha ends exile, leads from the front

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, February 05, 2013
First Published: 14:58 IST(5/2/2013) | Last Updated: 15:02 IST(5/2/2013)

He was the poster-boy of the Marxists in the post-Jyoti Basu regime, who dared to mix communism with a degree of free market economy, but sank into oblivion with the change of regime in the state in 2011. Now, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is back as the face of the Leftists in Bengal, leading a rejuvenated batch of determined Marxists.

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Beginning Tuesday, the former chief minister will give a series of television interviews, kicking off what many say would be the Left campaign for the crucial panchayat polls and the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

“We’d also asked Mamata Banerjee to be present on our shows, but she hasn’t responded. So, we’re kicking off with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,” said an editor of ABP Ananda.

“The programme with the former CM will be a live one,” said Anjan Bandopadhyay, input editor of Chobbish Ghanta.

Clearly, there has been a change of perception at Alimuddin Street about the image of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who has had to take most of the flak for the party’s humiliating defeat at the hands of the Trinamool Congress in the watershed 2011 Assembly polls.

Even senior CPI(M) leaders at that time felt that Bhattacharjee’s policies, particularly those relating to industry and land acquisition, were responsible for the Marxists’ defeat after 34 long years in power.

But 18 months into Mamata Banerjee’s regime, all that has changed. The CPI(M) is yet to find a leader to act as the face of the party and is now betting on Buddhadeb.

The former chief minister has been addressing rallies in Kolkata and the distrcts and, going by the crowds, he seems to have partially regained his popularity.

“The former chief minister has led the party in many battles. It’s time for him to speak up now that the Trinamool government has failed on all fronts,” a senior CPI(M) leader said.


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