Punjab CPM secretary 'suspended' from party

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Chandigarh, Oct 16 (UNI) Mr Balwant Singh, the secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPM, was today 'suspended' from the primary membership of the party on charges of ''serious misconduct''.

The 'suspension' means that Balwant Singh stands removed from the post of secretary of the state unit.

Mr Charan Singh Virdi, a member of the CPM Central Commitee and that of the State Committee has been appointed as the acting secretary of the state unit, till the appointment of a full time secretary.

''Mr Balwant Singh has been suspended from the primary membership, pending an inquiry'', a statement issued after two seprate meetings of the state committee of the CPM and the district committees said.

The two meeting were presided over by CPM general secretary Prakash Karat. Mr S R Pillai, member Politburo and Nilotpal Basu, member Central Commitee, participated in the two meetings.

The statement did not elaborate the charges of 'serious misconduct' against Mr Singh, who was handpicked by former CPM general secretary, the late Harkishan Singh Surjeet to head the party in 2001. The appointment of Mr Singh to the top party post had led to a split in the CPM with the seasoned Comrade, Mangat Ram Pasla parting ways alongwith several other senior leaders and setting up his own faction of the Punjab CPM.

The inquiry against Mr Singh was ordered at a meeting of the Politburo and Central Committee of the CPM, in May this year at Kolkata. The final inquiry report is still to be submitted to the party hierachy.

Balwant Singh is currently abroad and has been asked by the CPM leadership to return immediately. His suspension from the membership means that he stands removed from the post of state secretary as well as from all other party posts.

After the meeting Mr Karat refused to comment on the suspension of Balwant Singh. ''A statement is being issued by the party'', he simply added.

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