By taking action against Somnath Chatterjee, the CPM has displayed that it has different yardsticks for different party leaders.
It does not appear concerned about losing one of the country’s best Parliamentarians as Somnath Chatterjee was never seen as a mass leader.
For Chatterjee, the expulsion will not affect his prospects in future electoral battles as he had announced retirement from active politics after he became an MP for the 10th time in 2004. Even if he did contest, he would have to go elsewhere as Bolpur has become a reserved seat post-delimitation.
Will his absence affect the party? This is a question anyone on Alimuddin Street can answer. “Chatterjee was never a mass leader. Never did the CPI(M) expect him to organise mass movements. Rather, it was left to the Birbhum district committee to gather the crowds….In fact there are many MPs who are not mass leaders. They all depend on the party organisation,” said a senior state committee member.
Party bosses, however, have not taken similar action against Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty who has a history of defying the leadership — anybody other than Jyoti Basu. The alleged association of his men with criminals and his visit to a Hindu shrine have left the leadership red in the face many times over. But the CPI(M) could not go beyond censuring him. Chakraborty’s followers and his ability to bring in truckloads of people for rallies are enough reasons for the party to look the other way.
Even after being publicly censured by Karat for speaking in Chatterjee’s support last week, Chakraborty did not hesitate to express his “shock and dejection” after the Bolpur MP was expelled.