Pranab Mukherjee, LS Speaker hold separate meetings with Jyoti Basu

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Kolkata, Jul 13 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee separately met veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu here today and apprised him of the latest political situation arising out of the withdrawal of support of the Left parties to the UPA government.

''I called on Mr Basu to inform him what is the situation, under what circumstances did the Left and UPA fail to get along and what are the failures,'' Mr Mukherjee told reporters.

The External Affairs Minister said Mr Basu and former CPM General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet were the main architects of the Congress-led coalition government at the Centre and the UPA-Left Coordination Committee.

''When the coalition took place, as the Lok Sabha leader, I was asked by Mr Basu to see that the government runs. So it was my moral responsibility to report to him what has happened,'' he added.

Mr Mukherjee said he also inquired about the health of Mr Basu, who had been keeping unwell, and conveyed him a belated wish for his birthday which was on July 8.

''We don't have any affinity in political ideology but I greatly respect Mr Basu because he has made a big contribution to Indian politics,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee arrived in the city shortly before noon, drove straight to Mr Basu's Salt Lake residence from the airport and remained closeted with him for about half an hour.

Almost immediately after Mr Mukherjee left, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee also met Mr Basu for about an hour.

Mr Chatterjee, however, did not speak to the press.

UNI KDG DPM RD 1408

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