Somnath Calls for Immediate Change in CPI-M Leadership

Somnath Calls for Immediate Change in CPI-M Leadership

In the backdrop of CPI-M's dismal show in Lok Sabha poll, former party stalwart Somnath Chatterjee today pitched for an immediate change in the party's leadership, accusing it of losing contact with the masses.

Chatterjee, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, who was expelled by CPI-M in 2008, said the present leadership of the party was there for a long time and should immediately quit.

He said the party had failed to follow veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu's advice of always keeping in touch with the people and could not launch a single worthwhile movement on issues affecting the people.

"Jyoti Basu often exhorted party leaders to keep constant touch with the people. But they (CPI-M leadership) became distant from the people and were unable to launch a single (worthwhile) movement on burning issues", Chatterjee told PTI here.

Pointing out that a new leadership was immediately necessary, Chatterjee said that "in the party there is a good pool of talented young men and women leaders who can take over the reins to steer the party."

He criticised his former party with which he had a long association, saying whatever movements the party had undertaken so far were "directionless".

"I ask on what burning topics in India, they had a programme? Only holding meetings among themselves won't do," he felt.

He said one of the reasons behind BJP's sterling performance in the poll was that "the Left has not spoken on the burning issues in the country".

"What it did at best was to pass a resolution and at recent times we have not seen any movement. They should immediately quit. Let the new leadership inspire the people. The present leadership is there for a long time," he said.

Chatterjee, a front-ranking CPI(M) leader for decades, was expelled from the party in July, 2008 after the trust vote in Parliament over Indo-US nuclear deal.

Chatterjee also accused the party leadership of failing to stand beside partymen in villages. "The party workers face torture and problems in villages but there is no one to stand beside them."

On the BJP's surge in Bengal notching up a 17.6 per cent vote share, he said, "This is because the Congress was rejected by the people who thought that the Left had no scope to come to power at the Centre and found the BJP as an alternative to the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state".

He said that BJP's "aggressive campaign" in Bengal also contributed to the performance of the party in the polls which saw the BJP winning two seats.

Chatterjee had earlier also hit out at the central leadership of the CPI(M) for ‘losing relevance’ as seen in the string of electoral defeats in West Bengal.

“It is an agonising situation today that the Left has lost its relevance in the Indian political scene. It is clear that the support base of the Left has considerably shrunk,” he had said.

In a severe jolt, the Left parties were rendered virtually politically irrelevant in the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha managing to win only 10 seats, down from 24 in the previous House.

The total vote-share of CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc drastically slided from about seven per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll to 4.5 per cent this time round, according to official all-India data.

Of the total 10 seats the Left won, nine were of CPI(M) and one of CPI, with six coming from Kerala and two each from Tripura and West Bengal.

The most drastic decline was in West Bengal where Left once ruled for uninterrupted 34 years.

The number of their seats fell from 15 in the last Lok Sabha to only two this time.

After the results were out, CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose had said, "Our party does not believe in individual leadership. We believe in collective leadership".

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