West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is facing flak for a string of electoral defeats of CPI(M), today found support from former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who said there was no need for him to step down.
“I do not think the present chief minister should retire. It is for the people to give their verdict and I am sure they will give their verdict, but at the appointed time. There is no question of abrupt or forcible termination of the five year tenure,” Mr. Chatterjee told PTI in an interview.
Chatterjee was asked about demands by the Trinamool Congress that the chief minister should step down as he has lost the mandate of the people
The veteran leader did not think that Bhattacherjee had lost the mandate of the people to rule and that he should resign on moral grounds.
“He should continue to govern in a proper manner inspite of debacles and see that West Bengal progresses.”
80-year-old Chatterjee, who was expelled from the CPI(M) in July 2008 after the trust vote in parliament over the Indo-US nuclear deal issue, hit out at the central leadership of the CPI(M) for the party ‘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 said.
It is to be seen whether the action of the central leadership of withdrawal of support to the UPA government on the plea of the nuclear deal in 2008, has directly affected the people’s perception of the relevance of the Left parties in Indian politics,” Mr. Chatterjee said.
“They withdrew support to the government on the plea of the nuclear deal and wanted to form a Third Front all of which fizzled out,” he said.
On the reported move by a section in the Bengal CPI(M) to take him back in the party, Chatterjee said he was told by a state committee member that he had raised this at a recent party meeting. “I never left the party. The party felt that I was not a suitable person to continue as a member,” Mr. Chatterjee said.
“At the moment there is no possibility of my return to the party. I wish to make it very clear that I shall never apply to them, never write to them and never appeal to them,” Mr. Chatterjee said.
Asked if he would return to the party if it needed him, he said, “This is a speculative question. I do not wish to respond.”
Referring to the Left’s defeat in a series of elections from the Lok Sabha to the assembly bypolls to student union elections in the state, he said “It is for the leaders of the left parties and the workers to introspect whether there has been anything lacking in the administration or the governance or whether it is due to the policies and programmes of the party.”
To a question, Mr. Chatterjee said there were still large sections of people who feel that the Left would play an important role in Indian politics. “It is not that easy.”
He, however, felt that the Left parties still had a large number of supporters who looked up to leaders for direction and proper functioning.
Asked whether he felt that the West Bengal administration appeared to be paralysed with political violence taking place every now and then, Mr. Chatterjee said “I am not saying that the administration is paralysed. But, what I find with greatest concern and dismay is that political violence has taken over West Bengal“.
“Today innocent people are being killed in the name of politics, in the name of change of social order or political order. There are killings and it seems violence is thought to be the method of bringing about change which cannot be accepted in a parliamentary democracy.” Mr. Chatterjee urged all political parties to seriously think about the great damage that was being caused to West Bengal and the state’s development.
“Political muscle flexing is seriously affecting not only the peace within the state, but prosperity of the state because there is hardly any new investment. We find that Nano and Paharpur Cooling Towers have left the state. That is a bad omen.
“My sincerest appeal to political parties is not to use violence, but rather oppose violence so that peace prevails in the state,” Mr. Chatterjee said.