CPI(M) MLA’s remark nobody is ‘untouchable in politics’ triggers fresh debate

Communist Party of India-Marxist [CPI-M] MLA Tanmoy Bhattacharya's remark that nobody is “untouchable in politics” has triggered a fresh debate in West Bengal political circles. He has also said that and in the present political scenario everyone - which includes the Trinamool Congress [TMC] - should unite against the BJP.

Mr. Bhattacharya, MLA from Dum Dum North and one of vocal MLAs of the Left Front, posted a statement as well as a video on a social media platform. He argued that he will not shy away from taking help from Trinamool Congress Minister Jyotipriya Mullick, if he is around, when a person is being beaten and forced to chant Jai Shri Ram.

I believe Mr. Mullick will do so as well....there is nothing called political untouchability. It is the issue that decides what needs to be done,” the MLA said. He mentioned Mr. Mullick - who once fiercely targeted the CPI(M) - as both represent their respective parties in North 24 Paraganas district, adjacent to Kolkata.

Mr. Bhattacharya said “he will not change his opinion [even if] abused [by Left supporters]."

The Left parties and the TMC share decades of political adversity and any idea of coming together is opposed by the rank and file of Left supporters. The remark thus triggered strong reactions both from within the party and the common people. Many rejected Mr. Bhattachrya's idea. “Whom do we seek clarification from about those [Left supporters] who were killed in Jangalmahal -- from you or from Jyotipriya Mullick,” a Left supporter asked the MLA on his social media profile.

However, a section among the rank and file of the CPI(M) also defended Mr. Bhattacharya, arguing that if “one [party] cannot go beyond its limited boundary, then there may not be any escape from collapse”, indicating it is time for the Bengal CPI(M) to think afresh. Throughout the day, the issue snowballed to the extent when senior leaders like State president of the labour arm of the party, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and State Secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty had to comment refuting Mr. Bhattacharya's argument.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had said there is no question of the CPI(M) and the TMC coming together in electoral terms, Mr. Chakraborty said. Referring to the MLA’s remarks, Mr. Chakraborty said that in certain industrial units, Left and TMC's trade unions were coming together to fight for their rights. At the Ranaghat Railway Station, hawkers from affiliated to the CITU and the TMC took out a rally together, he noted.

The remark of the CPI(M) leader should be seen in the context of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's recent appeal made in the floor of the Legislative Assembly, asking the Left parties and the Congress to come together gainst the BJP. It is not only CPI(M) leaders that are pressing on some kind of political understanding with the TMC, but also a section of Bengal Congress leadership too.

“Need of the hour is unity among non-BJP parties in the country. Unite or perish,” State Congress leader Omprakash Mishra said.

Professor Mishra, one of the proponents of Left-Congress unity in the State has been emphasising that it is imperative that all parties unite against the BJP.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 2:06:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/cpim-mlas-remark-nobody-is-untouchable-in-politics-triggers-fresh-debate/article28494669.ece

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