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January 15, 2000
Yechury blasts CPI-M dissidents
Mohammad Javed R in Calcutta
In a veiled criticism of liberals in the Communist Party of India (Marxist), politburo member Sitaram Yechury yesterday said the talks over the absence of democracy in the organisation were actually to spoil its image.
The prime targets of the Marxist Young Turk's ire were West Bengal Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty and former central committee member and parliamentarian Saifuddin Chowdhury.
Both Chowdhury and Chakraborty have been quite vocal in their demands for democracy in the party. Embarrassed by their public outbursts, the state secretariat of the CPI-M has already served a show-cause notice on Chowdhury while mildly snubbing Chakraborty.
"Those critical about the lack of democracy in the CPI-M must bear in mind that ours is still the most democratic party. We have never encouraged autocratic functioning and neither do we have such things on our future agenda," Yechury told reporters.
Asked whether the three-day politburo meeting in Calcutta would take any decision on the factional feuds that have plagued the CPI-M's Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal units, Yechury said the party's highest decision-making body had no intention of interfering in these matter and would leave them to the respective state committees.
"The current meet is primarily to update party programmes in keeping with the changing world. The change was necessary as there's been a phenomenal political metamorphosis in the country. With the fascist forces led by the BJP assuming power, the Congress's monopoly on national governance has become a thing of the past. Therefore, it is imperative we review our anti-monopoly theory," he said.
But a senior CPI-M politician told rediff.com that a few leaders, including Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, had expressed concern at the bickering in the party. Basu is reported to have told politburo members that stringent action against Chowdhury or Chakraborty would be suicidal for the party, especially in view of two crucial elections ahead.
The CPI-M general secretary, Harkishen Singh Surjeet, told reporters that there was no such camps as 'hardliners' and 'liberals' in the party. "Thanks to you journalists, the party appears to be heading towards a split. You people would be disappointed to know that the situation is not as grave as you have been projecting," the veteran Marxist said.
The politburo also discussed the party's strategies in view of next month's assembly elections in Bihar and Orissa. According to Yechury, the politburo members are united on the party's pledge to unite all secular forces to ensure the defeat of communal elements.
So does that mean the CPI-M would join hands once again with Laloo Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar? Yechury parried the question, saying "the matter is still being discussed".
The official press briefings will be made at 1530 IST on the concluding day of the meeting. Sources, however, said the politburo is unlikely to take any action against any rebel as both Basu and Surjeet have thrown their weight behind the radicals.
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