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Jyoti Basu had doubts about Karat's skills

delhi Updated: Sep 05, 2011 00:56 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times
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Former West Bengal chief minister and CPM veteran Jyoti Basu had concerns about the abilities of Prakash Karat before he was slated to take over the reins of the party, a US diplomatic cable claimed.

Just 10 days before Karat became the general secretary of the party on 11, 2005, then US ambassador to India David Mulford had sent an extensive cable to Washington evaluating Karat and his party.

It said: "CPM icon Jyoti Basu (is) concerned that Karat will not be as adept at handling the Congress or even the Left Front coalition as well as Surjeet (Harkishan Singh Surjeet)."

Basu, however, also predicted that "he (Karat) will grow."

The cable also mentioned that Politburo member Sitaram Yechury was Basu's choice as the successor to Surjeet for the general secretary's post.

While in another cable the US diplomats said that Karat kept Yechury in dark about withdrawal of support from the UPA government in 2008, the April communique stated that "the untested and inexperienced young leadership - neither Karat nor Politburo member Sitram Yechury have actual governing experience - may have trouble bringing the CPM into the next generation."

"We have to take their observations and interpretations with a pinch of salt. We need not accept them," Karat told reporters on Sunday when asked about the WikiLeaks.

The cable also said that Surjeet, "who steered the party to its pro-Congress stance, is 89 years old and in very poor health, and under pressure to step down after 13 years in office.

But rumours persist that Surjeet is not yet ready to relinquish the mantle, despite being almost totally blind and deaf."

While describing Karat as urbane, sophisticated and a good organiser in most areas, Mulford wrote that Karat's elevation will make him more amenable to attempts by Marxist pragmatists to temper his ideological zeal.

"Moreover, because of Communist discipline, Karat has no choice but to follow the dictates of the party if it decides to continue along the moderate path," the cable said.

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