Rumblings within CPI (M) on support to Pranab

The BJD-AIADMK-sponsored Presidential candidate, P. A. Sangma, who is supported by the BJP, wants the UPA nominee, Pranab Mukherjee, to debate (akin to the US model) with him on a range of issues in general, and the economy in particular. However, the Congress shrugged off the suggestion, saying that the first citizen of the country doesn’t manage the economy.

Meanwhile, former head of CPI (M) research unit, Prasenjit Bose, quit the party in protest against the decision of the party to support Mr. Mukherjee. In an open letter, he argued that the decision was “against” the line taken by the Party Congress held in Kerala earlier this year.

“I protest against the decision by the Polit Bureau to support the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee... I consider this to be a grave error which will harm the party and disturb Left unity,” Mr. Bose said in the letter. He maintained that the stand adopted by the CPI and the RSP to refrain was eminently reasonable, transparent and principled.

Mr. Sangma, while appealing to the Presidential Electoral Colleges, consisting of the MPs and members of the Legislative Assemblies, to vote according to their ‘conscience’, said his triumph in the Presidential election will be a “big message” to “more than 100 million tribals”.

Mr. Sangma said he has sought appointments with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, and he was hopeful of getting their support. TMC is yet to announce its decision, while Shiv Sena has declared support to Mr. Mukherjee.

The former Lok Sabha Speaker, who quit his parent party (NCP) to stay in the contest, maintained that he is standing on behalf of the Tribal Council, which represents the interests of tribals.

Mr. Sangma said that he wanted to correct the historic mistakes the country has committed as “tribals haven’t been given their due... I appeal to the conscience of the nation. We have given our land, our forest, our natural resources... please recognise us.” Describing Mukherjee as a “great friend” and also his “guru (teacher)” for whom he has “lot of respect”, he said that the veteran Congress leader, however, couldn’t pay much attention to West Bengal.

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