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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Somnath melts, may campaign for CPM

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Santiniketan, April 14, 2011
First Published: 01:14 IST(14/4/2011) | Last Updated: 13:21 IST(14/4/2011)

With some goodwill still left for the CPM, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee is considering whether he should campaign for the party in West Bengal, though there is no change in his ‘expelled’ status.

“I am rethinking, but I am yet to take a final call. Though I took a conscious decision to retire, I feel like coming back and joining the campaign. Many CPM candidates have requested me to speak out for them,” said Chatterjee, 81, on Tuesday at his residence in Goalpara, on the outskirts of Santiniketan.

Chatterjee, who was speaker of the Lok Sabha from June 2004 to May 2009, was expelled from the CPM for “seriously compromising the position of the party”. He did not comply with the directive to step down as speaker and vote against the India-US nuclear deal.

“I had not left my party. My party took a decision not to associate with me further,” he said, adding that the dissociation did not rob him of the CPM’s ideals.

“One cannot make me forget the party’s ideals just by taking away my membership. I got many chances elsewhere, but refused. I was offered membership of the Rajya Sabha by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but I politely declined.”

If people so want, a new government will come. I just want free and fair polls. But how can one undermine 34 years of Left governance? By saying that it (the government) has not done anything in these years, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is insulting the people, who have elected the Left Front. It is a world record,” Chatterjee said.

Mohammed Selim, CPM central committee member, said: “Somnathda is always welcome. There are many who were with the party earlier. Many of them are very concerned.”

“He is also welcome to campaign for our candidates as he used to do when he was a central committee member.”

Selim’s stance indicates a softening of the party’s position on Chatterjee. Things deteriorated in July-August 2010, when Chatterjee published his autobiography, in which he blamed CPM general secretary Prakash Karat for “jeopardising” the Left movement.

Chatterjee had described his expulsion in July 2008 as one of the saddest occasions of his life. It was then that he announced he would quit politics.


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