CPI(M) leaders divided on Speaker issue

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New Delhi, Jul 14: West Bengal Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Subhas Chakraborty on Monday, July 14, backed Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and said he should not quit as the Speaker before the trust vote in Parliament.

He said that the CPI-M should not vote with the BJP on the Indo-US nuclear deal as “voting with the saffron party will harm our party"s interests."
“We can't be equated with BJP to fight American imperialism. This is my own view and my own understanding and everyone has the right to have his view. I agree with Somnath Chaterjee's view and I have given my view to my party," Chakraborty added.

Chakraborty was candid on the other big issue that has been troubling the party rank and file — voting with the BJP against the UPA. Asked what was his assessment about the CPM decision to vote alongside the BJP during the floor test in Parliament, he said: “Voting with the BJP will harm our party"s interests."

He is the first to air a view that is shared by many not just within the CPM but also Left Front partners — they are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of taking sides with the BJP to try and vote out the UPA. In West Bengal, the CPM popularity has been dented in areas with reasonable Muslim concentration. With Lok Sabha polls not too far away, there is worry that the party may have to pay a heavy price for being seen as taking sides with the BJP.

On Sunday,CPM patriarch Basu is understood to have counselled 79-year-old parliamentary veteran to toe the party line to present a united face on the issue which implies that he quit the post. Chatterjee, however, described his meeting with Basu as personal when he discussed family matters.

Prakash Karat, CPM General Secretary said that Mr Chatterjee, who was elected on a CPM ticket, should take the line of the party and 'dissociate from the government". Incidentally, the Speaker"s post was a price for the CPM's wholesome backing for the Congress" power project. When the offer was made in 2004, the party had deliberated on the issue at length. The offer was taken up under pressure from its West Bengal unit.

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