The CPI(M)’s poster boy in West Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is learning the hard way — even after the Somnath Chatterjee episode — that individuals cannot air ideas the party does not approve of.
The Lok Sabha Speaker had to face summary expulsion for refusing to quit as the Speaker after his party withdrew support to the UPA. But Bengal’s industry-savvy CM got away with public censure for assuring industry captains on Monday that he did not approve bandhs and found it unfortunate that his own party used it as a mode of protest.
But like Somnath, Bhattacharjee possibly had to go through some humiliation. Because he had to toe the party line
silently after claiming at the Assocham meet that he would no longer remain silent if his party called another bandh and would speak out (possibly in protest).
“The party publicly censured him. According to our constitution, this is a kind of punishment. The state secretary also expressed his disapproval in public. The chief minister did not protest. This means he has accepted it, said state Citu president and Rajya Sabha member Shyamal Chakraborty on Friday.
Buddhadeb’s silence on this issue only confirmed what Chakraborty said.
The CM’s attempt to pull off his own brand of liberalism invited strong reaction — not just from the Left, but even Congress and the Trinamool. For the CPIM leadership, the comment could not have come at a worse time.
Already caught in a cleft over Mamata Banerjee’s agitation outside the gates of Tata Motors at Singur, the CPI(M) could not afford another controversy.
Kerala Chief Minister VS Achhuthanandan reacted strongly. So did Bengal state secretary Biman Bose on Wednesday. Bose, spoke at a programme organised in memory of Harkishen Singh Surjeet, saying the right to strike is a fundamental right of workers facing oppression in a capitalist system.
It was not only a public censure, but made in the presence of Budhhadeb himself and industry minister Nirupam Sen. The message was loud and clear. On Thursday, the Politburo issued a statement form Delhi saying workers had the right to strike.