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Buddha’s 24-Karat gem: Cong not out

india Updated: Apr 25, 2009 03:49 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Virtually contradicting his party boss Prakash Karat, West Bengal Chief Minister and CPM leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Friday did not rule out the possibility of doing business with the Congress again after the polls.

<b1>"We are not committing anything…After elections, when the situation will arise, we will discuss on the concrete situation at that time, not now,” Bhattacharjee said when asked whether the Left parties could ally with the Congress after the elections.

In an interview to CNN-IBN news channel, he said the Left parties were “busy with the task to defeat both the Congress and the BJP”.

His comments are in sharp contrast to the tough talk of his party general secretary Prakash Karat, who has repeatedly said, “No government is possible at the Centre with the Congress”.

Bhattacharjee also hinted at the possibility of the party joining the government for the first time at the Centre, in case it got the opportunity. “After 1996, when we rejected the idea of Jyoti babu taking over as prime minister, after that we had a debate inside the party,” he said. “We discussed and decided that if situation demands and if we can play a meaningful role in the government, then we have to think over and we may join this government.”

Though CPM leaders are predicting a bright future for the Third Front propped up by the party, they are aware that the last word on participation in any such government would be that of the powerful central committee, which had denied Jyoti Basu the chance in 1996.

Bhattacharjee is the first top CPM leader to express flexible views towards the Congress since the parting of ways between the two sides on the issue of the Indo-US nuclear deal last year.

His willingness to explore a future partnership with the Congress is being viewed as a “realistic view” within the CPM, which had so far been strident in its criticism of the ruling party on every issue. A section of the CPM leadership from Bengal view the strong anti-Congress stance taken by Karat as “dogmatic” and lacking in practical understanding of the ground situation.

Party insiders also view the chief minister’s statement as a tactical ploy to create a wedge between the Congress and its ally, the Trinamool Congress.