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Biman at helm in red sea

Bose is on balancing mode much like his predecessor whose main contribution had been to soothe ruffled feathers.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 16:08 IST

The reform line-up is firmly in place. “Those who oppose FDI in West Bengal do not understand the situation. We have never accepted FDI with any tags attached,” Biman Bose told HT hours before he was unanimously elected secretary of the Bengal CPI-M unit.

He also shielded the chief minister from charges by certain sections in the party against his policy of acquiring land for industries and infrastructure. “These people need time to understand realities. The amount of agricultural land in our state has actually gone up. The charge that we are ignoring the villages and pampering the cities is baseless,” Bose said.

And his stand in favour of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s liberal investment policies was amply rewarded. The chief minister himself proposed his name as Anil Biswas’s successor, seconded by yet another “reformer” Nirupam Sen. Bose will continue to function as the Left Front chairman.

After an hour-long party state committee meeting attended by general secretary Prakash Karat and patriarch Jyoti Basu, Bose faced the media flanked by the chief minister and Sen.

Bhattacharjee formally announced Bose’s name, ending weeks of speculation. Prakash Karat was expected to do the honours, but a last-minute change of plans saw the chief minister take it up upon himself.

That apart, the chief minister’s press briefing was also significant. “Henceforth, the party will operate collectively,” he harped. Biman was reticent.

The CM’s insistence on collective leadership is subject to interpretations in the red circle.

Some believe that while Anil Biswas was the lone supervisory link between the party and the state government, Bose never directly oversaw governance-related issues.

Hence Bhattacharjee and Sen have been asked to help him. Others read it as an ominous sign — the first step towards tightening the chief minister’s grip on the state unit.

Top CPI-M leaders, however, explained that Bose’s choice was unanimous because he was the only leader accepted by both the hawks and the doves.

They pointed out that Bose was already on the “balancing mode” much like his predecessor whose main contribution in the party had been to soothe ruffled feathers and prevent the it from going the Kerala way.