Within 24 hours of HT reporting that former Lok Sabha speaker and expelled CPM Central Committee member Somnath Chatterjee was mulling an end to his political exile, Bengal Housing Development Minister Gautam Deb announced that Chatterjee would campaign for him.
“On April 24 at Dumdum Somnath Chatterjee will address a public meeting in my favour,” said Deb, one of CPI(M)’s star campaigners in the Assembly polls, on Thursday.
Reacting to Deb’s announcement Chatterjee said, “Gautam has requested me to join an election campaign for him. If doctors permit me, personally I’ll attend that rally. I want to campaign for CPI(M) candidates.”
On Thursday CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, who was instrumental in getting Chatterjee expelled from the party in July 2008, said he had no problem with the latter campaigning for a party candidate.
“I have nothing to do with it. If somebody wants to support us, it’s good. Why should we have a problem with it,” he said.
Karat also mentioned it was up to the state unit to decide whose support it would seek for poll campaigns.
Meanwhile, Deb remarked that Chatterjee, who was expelled two years ago had had enough punishment.
“Nowhere is it written that a leader once expelled by the party cannot be taken back,” said Deb. “I took the decision to invite Somnathda only after consulting my leaders Biman Bose and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,” he added.