Sonia barb angers Basu | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Sonia barb angers Basu

PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Kolkata
May 06, 2004 06:18 PM IST

Jyoti Basu is reconsidering his support for Sonia Gandhi's candidature for Prime Minister after the Cong chief made unkind remarks about his Marxist party.

Former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu is apparently reconsidering his support for Sonia Gandhi's candidature for prime minister after the Congress president made unkind remarks about his Marxist party.

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Basu was Sonia's prime supporter for the top job even though his Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was exploring the possibility of forming a government without the Congress.

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But Sonia has now miffed Basu, who has called her party "irresponsible" and spoken about the possibility of forming a government in New Delhi without the Congress -- possibly for the first time.

The reason for Basu's apparent anger followed the Congress president's attack on Tuesday on West Bengal's prolonged CPI-M rule. The CPI-M and the Congress support each other at the national level but are foes in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala.

The Marxists had expected Sonia to soft-pedal on her anti-CPI-M rhetoric.

Basu said at an election rally Wednesday night: "Sonia Gandhi spoke all nonsense the other day. There can't be a secular government without the Left support.

"One has to understand that coalition politics is the reality of the day. It has taken the Congress so long to understand that."

He said the Congress was "irresponsible" in not understanding this.

Basu, who until now had openly supported Sonia for the post of prime minister, said: "It has to be decided who will become the prime minister. That will come up only after the election."

The nonagenarian politician, in an apparent turnaround from his earlier stand that the leftists had to support the Congress if the present federal government had to be ousted, said the left and other secular parties had to unite.

The CPI-M, which until recently said it would back a Congress-led coalition to ensure the exit of the Nationalist Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, has been encouraged by the exit poll figures to consider forming an alliance without the Congress.

This change in the CPI-M's stance is believed to have angered Sonia, who went full throttle in criticising the leftists at three election rallies in the state's northern districts.

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