Speaker yet to decide on quitting office
Despite party pressure, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Sunday night said he had not yet taken a decision on whether to resign the constitutional post. “I have not taken a decision. When I decide, I will certainly let you know. I request the media not not to enter into speculation about the Speaker’s post,” he said when asked for comment after his meeting with CPI-M patriarch Jyoti Basu here.
During the meeting, Basu is understood to have counselled the Speaker to toe the party line in order to present a united face on the issue, which implies that he quit the post. Chatterjee, however, described his meeting with Basu as personal where he discussed family matters.
However, CPM sources told HT that during the hour-long conversation with his mentor, the Bolpur MP was aggrieved that his consent was not sought before including him in the list of party MPs that was submitted to President Pratibha Patil on July 8. Already under pressure from not only the CPM but its Left allies to step down as Speaker, Chatterjee reportedly told Basu that after being neutral inside the House for four years, it would be morally unfair for him to vote against the UPA and, hence, he should resign from the Lok Sabha. Apart from the embarrassment, that would mean one Left vote less on July 22.
Basu, CPM sources said, asked Chatterjee to follow the party decision and refrain from any drastic step that could affect its image. Top CPM leaders confirmed general secretary Prakash Karat had had a talk with Chatterjee over phone on Saturday and left it to him to decide when to quit. Karat reportedly admitted that as Speaker, Chatterjee was not supposed to be partisan, but maintained that in a regimented communist party, every member had to follow a collective decision. Left Front leaders in Kolkata and Delhi were hopeful that after Basu’s intervention, the controversy would be over.
Earlier, before his meeting with Chatterjee, Union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee called on Basu. “As Lok Sabha leader, it was my duty to inform Basu why and under what circumstances coordination between the Left and UPA broke,” Mukherjee said.
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