CPM expels Speaker Somnath for defying party line

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New Delhi, Jul 23 (UNI) Taking severest disciplinary action against its ten time MP and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) today expelled him from its primary membership for violating the party line and refusing to quit his post after the party withdrew support to the Manmohan Singh Government on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.

The party's Polit Bureau which met today in its unanimous decision said: "the party has decided to expel Somnath Chatterjee from the membership of the party with immediate effect." The Polit Bureau took the action against the veteran parliamentarian under Article XIX, Clause 13 of the Party Constitution for seriously compromising position of the party.

As per the Constitution and the rules of the Party, explusion from the party is the severest of all disciplinary measures and this shall be applied with utmost caution, deliberation and judgement.

The party's tiff with Mr Chatterjee had snowballed into a major controversy after the CPM withdrew support to the 50-month old UPA Government and subsequently submitted the list of party MPs, including the name of Mr Chatterjee, to the President. The Speaker reportedly was upset with the party general secretary Prakash Karat for not consulting him before including his name in the list and his reaching out to BSP chief and UP Chief Minister Mayawati to defeat the government.

Mr Chatterjee had also expressed his reservation over the party's going out of the way and joining hands with the BJP to vote out the Government. On the other hand, he chose not to quit his post as desired by the party leadership, on the plea that his is an apolitical office and, moreover, he would not vote along with BJP against the government.

The showdown between the party and Mr Chatterjee continued even after the intervention by party patriarch and former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu. Mr Chatterjee's insistance to cling to the chair was even described as "childish" by none other than party veteran V Radhakrishanan.

While the CPI chose to remain non-committal on the issue, the Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) endorsed the CPM stance towards Mr Chatterjee.

UNI KSA/KAS RP HS1842

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