Former chief minister of West Bengal Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee may step down from the CPI(M) politburo – the party’s top executive body – at the party congress in Vishakhapatnam to be held mid-April.
Bhattacharjee’s industry minister and colleague, Nirupam Sen, is also likely to bow out of the politburo, sources have indicated.
The former CM’s exit may see a reformist face of the CPI(M) without a top order at a time when the party is grappling to stay relevant and revive itself in the aftermath of a “neo-liberal economic onslaught.” Moreover, the party is facing an unprecedented challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal.
The party’s 21st congress in Vishakhapatnam will see a revamp of the politburo and the central committee, with sources saying that Mohammad Salim, a Lok Sabha MP and central committee member from West Bengal, could enter the politburo.
Bhattacharjee and Sen reportedly want to be “relieved” from the politburo to make space for a new generation of leaders.
“Both are not keeping well. There are no other motives (to them leaving),” said a senior party leader. Another leader suggested that the two could be made “special invitees” to the politburo.
Bhattacharjee, chief minister for 11 years, was hailed as the party’s “poster boy” who tried to bring Tata’s ambitious Nano car project to Bengal’s Singur district.
However, his plan fell through in the face of fierce protests by Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress. The Tata’s decided to pull out their project from Bengal in 2008, and three years later, the Left government collapsed with the TMC sweeping to power.
In 2008, Jyoti Basu, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and R Umanath — all founding members of the CPI(M) — were relieved from the politburo on the grounds of ill-health.