When the Opposition unites, the CPI(M) gets divided!
On Thursday late night, former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya publicly protested the party’s Lok Sabha wing’s move to hold joint rally with arch-rival Trinamool outside Parliament.
This rare public outburst from the tallest leader of CPI(M)’s Bengal unit, which is already disgruntled over several strategies of the central leadership, prompted the comrades in Lower House avoid the Opposition’s grand protest outside Parliament building Friday where the Congress, Trinamool and others participated.
Bhattacharya’s key objection was against party MPs joining protests with Trinamool against derogatory comments by a Union minister when the state CPI(M) is fighting for action against Trinamool MP Tapas Paul for his threat to send boys to rape women in families of CPI(M) supporters.
“Our party is consistently demanding the resignation of the minister. But we cannot go into a joint programme with Trinamool which has no credibility in the fight against communalism. Strict action against Tapas Paul also needs to be taken," Bhattacharya’s statement said.
The incident, once again, brought out the underlying tension and disconnect between the Karat-led central leadership and the state leadership in Bengal, where the party is struggling to remain relevant. Sources added that party’s Lok Sabha leader P Karunakaran, a veteran from Kerala, agreed to hold joint protests. With just nine MPs in Lok Sabha, the CPI(M) is far from being a major force on the basis of its own strength.
Karunakaran, sources added, enjoyed the support of Karat who told some of his colleagues Thursday, “This is good. Now, something will also happen in Lok Sabha.” Till Thursday, the Opposition versus the government fight was restricted to Rajya Sabha only where the Opposition enjoys majority over the government.
CPI(M) Rajya Sabha leader and politburo member Sitaram Yechury told HT, “The decision (to join protest with Trinamool) was taken by the Lok Sabha unit. As far as we are concerned, the CPI(M) is Rajya Sabha is leading the protests in the Upper House and our cooperation is limited within the House.”
Trinamool spokesperson Derek O’Brian took a dig at Bhattacharyya for forcing his party stay out of the protests: “He lost the assembly election by a margin of 30,000 votes. It was their loss not to join protests.”
Sources added, Bhattacharyya came to know about the developments late in the night and immediately tried to connect Karat and Yechury. Unable to get them, he called up a young party MP of Rajya Sabha and vented his frustration over the decision. Later, the former CM managed to speak to the two leaders and told them that he would issue a statement—a rare act in a regimented party like the CPI(M).