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CPI-M is a 'non-actor' in Indian politics, says Somnath

By Anil K Joseph in Kochi
March 03, 2009 21:38 IST
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In a stinging attack at his former party, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said on Tuesday that the Communist Party of India-Marxist has reduced itself to a "non-actor" in national politics after withdrawing support to the Congress-led coalition describing the action as a "big blunder".
Chatterjee also dubbed the loss of a key West Bengal Assembly by-election -- Bishnupur (West) -- to Trinamool
Congress as a "huge embarrassment" for the CPI-M.
Describing as a "big blunder" the CPI-M's withdrawal of support to the UPA last July, the 79-year old veteran
politician told PTI in an interview that the party has lost an opportunity to serve the people.
Chatterjee, who is on a two-day Kerala tour, also made a veiled attack on CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat by saying that the "only credible leader" the CPI-M had was Jyoti Basu, who was his mentor.
"The CPI-M has now reduced itself to a non-actor in national politics. It has failed to feel the pulse of the people and is quickly loosing mass base," Chatterjee said, ruling out his return to the party with which he was associated for decades. Chatterjee was expelled by CPI-M for defying the party directive to quit Speakership after the Left withdrew support.
Chatterjee's offensive against the CPI-M is seen significant as it has come ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and close on the heels of Congress and Trinamool Congress announcing an alliance.

Defending his decision not to quit his post, Chatterjee said, "I took a considered decision to stand by the Constitution and not allow myself to take a course of action which would have seriously compromised my position as Speaker of the supreme legislature of the country."
Asked about his experiences as the Speaker, he said he had "mixed" feelings and the frequent disruptions of the House
made him unhappy. He expressed concern over the "communalisation and criminalisation" of politics which he said had "greatly vitiated the country's political system".
Chatterjee said he was particularly pained at the "shameful event" of July 22 last year when some Bharatiya Janata Party members of Parliament displayed wads of currency notes which they said were given to them in exchange for their support during the Trust Vote.
"The image of Parliament and its members, rather the political class as a whole, reached its nadir in the wake of the unprecedented shameful events," he said, adding he was also hurt to see politics of intense confrontation gaining upper hand, leading to disruption of House proceedings.
Criticising the media for its poor coverage of Parliament proceedings, the Speaker said: "Unfortunately, the media
coverage of Parliament has transformed significantly in recent years...It is a matter of concern that today very inadequate, if not miniscule space, is alloted in newspapers to parliamentary coverage."

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Anil K Joseph in Kochi
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