New Delhi, Jul 15: CPI(M) veteran Somnath Chatterjee on Tuesday, July 15 said that he does not want to step down as Lok Sabha Speaker until July 22, when the UPA government faces a trust vote in Parliament. Chatterjee has been under pressure from the party to step down as Speaker ever since the Left withdrew support to the UPA on July 8.
In a letter written to party general secretary Prakash Karat, Chatterjee made it clear that he was not in favour of voting along with the opposition BJP and against the government. Reports earlier said that Chatterjee had even threatened to give up his Lok Sabha membership if he is forced to resign from the Speaker's post. This may still be a possibility going by his stance.
While withdrawing support from the UPA government, Karat had said that it was for the Speaker to decide whether to quit or not. Chatterjee"s name figured in the list of 60 MPs handed over to the President while withdrawing support. However, the Speaker claims he had not been consulted on the issue. Chatterjee had also met party patriarch Jyoti Basu on Sunday to discuss the matter.
The CPI(M) wants Chatterjee to resign as Speaker in order to add one more vote to its tally, which might prove crucial in the trust vote. However, with Chatterjee saying he wants to continue as Speaker till the trust vote and also making it clear that he will not vote along with the BJP, things don"t seem to be going in Left"s favour in case there is a tie in Parliament during the confidence vote.
Also, a clear line seems to be emerging within the CPI(M) on the issue of joining ranks with the BJP – their biggest political opponent – and bringing about the UPA government"s fall, thereby ensuring the Indo-US nuclear deal becomes dead.
Senior leader Sitaram Yechury"s absence while the decision to withdraw support was taken had also raised eyebrows. While Yechury was in the UK on the invitation of the European government to attend a function, political pundits back home were left wondering why the CPI(M) didn"t wait till he came back before withdrawing support.