Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CPM finally expels Somanth Chaterjee

This was about one of the most anticipated news in recent times on an individual politician level. The Speaker, Somnath Chaterjee has been a member of the CPM for a long long time, having been a Member of Parliament from the party for 10 times now. For all appearances, he has been an articulate and devoted member for the party. At the same time, as the party drew up its leadership over a period of time, it was clear that Somnath Chaterjee was not going to be a candidate in the succession chain, and given that he is 79 years, not likely to happen in the future also.
There was a lot of buzz that he wanted to the President, but the CPM did not agree to this (leading to some disappointment with the party politburo). At the same time, even though the BJP keeps on accusing him of acting in a biased manner, he seems to have given the office of the Speaker his all. It was a familiar sight of the Speaker trying his best to bring an unruly house to control (and mostly failing). So, there must have been the feeling that he enjoyed a constitutional post, with the prestige associated with it, and above the dictates of any party.
Even then, it was a matter of surprise that he refused to obey the diktat of the CPM that he quit the office of the Speaker and became defiant in his attitude. This must have been very unsettling for the party; a Communist party likes to believe that once the Politburo has spoken, then there is no cause for dissent; even if it is the holder of a constitutional post. So, the party backed down a bit, keeping his name off the whip, but the action was predicted. It was the timing that was to be considered, and it was fast:

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was on Wednesday expelled by CPM climaxing a fortnight-long defiance of the veteran parliamentarian to quit at the call of the party with which he was associated for four decades. The party invoked Article 19 (13) of its constitution to expel him under summary procedures without any notice on the charge of "seriously compromising" the party position.
The 79-year old barrister and ten-time MP, Chatterjee rejected both subtle and explicit hints from the party leadership, which asked him to quit the post to which he was elected unanimously after the 2004 elections, saying he was above party politics given the post he held.

Somehow, this action also gives a hint of the anger that is bubbling within the CPM over the vote loss and consequent loss of influence, that it took a fast and quick action against a leader who has been with the party for long.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:06 AM