Cracks in the ruling Left Front widened on Thursday on the issue of advancing of 2011 Assembly elections in West Bengal as demanded by a minor partner following repeated electoral reverses, with major allies saying the issue should be discussed and lead partner Communist Party of India-Marxist virtually rejecting the idea.
"We have to sit and discuss. I do not rule out such a possibility. The issue of going for early polls requires to be discussed threadbare in the Left Front and also our party," Public Works Department Minister and Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Kshiti Goswami told PTI.
"Any decision should be taken after careful thought. No hasty decision should be taken," Goswami said in an apparent reference to Fisheries Minister and West Bengal Socialist Party leader Kironmoy Nanda, who renewed his call for the coalition to quit and go for early assembly elections.
Unfazed by criticism from Left Front partners to his demand, Nanda reiterated "If we opt for early assembly polls there will be time to make a turnaround. If we lose the assembly elections, we will sit in the opposition since we cannot be in power for an indefinite period." The Forward Bloc, the second biggest constituent in the nine-party Left Front coalition, also said since the demand has been raised by WBSP it should be discussed in the Left Front.
"I will ask Front chairman Biman Bose to call a LF meeting to discuss the issue," Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh said. To a question, Goswami acknowledged "If we remain in power for long time we grow fat. Remaining out of power will increase our striking power."
CPI state secretary Manju Kumar Muzamdar said the issue raised by Nanda would be discussed on November 14 and 15 at the party's national executive in New Delhi. A front-ranking CPI-M leader and the party state secretariat member Robin Deb, however, said "There is no precedent of the government quitting following election reverses."
"Only in 1991, the assembly elections were preponed by a year and and clubbed with the Lok Sabha election to save expenses," he told PTI. Another CPI-M leader and party's state secretariat member Shyamal Chakaborty said the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government was elected for five years and has not completed its term. "Where is the question of resignation?"He said the Congress had only three Lok Sabha seats in 1977 in the state, but the Congress-led government had not resigned.
Meanwhile, three major LF partners CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP were critical of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's statement in an English daily that the point of view of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee appeared to "have found resonance across Bengal".
CPI national executive member and state secretary Manju Kumar Majumder said his party protests Chidambaram's statement obliquely backing Banerjee's assertion that the LF government has lost the right to rule. "As Union home minister how could he say this," he asked. Echoing him, Forward Bloc leader Hafiz Alam Sairani said, "We have nothing to say if he made the statement as a leader of a political party. But if made it as Union home minister, he should dismiss the state government."
Senior RSP leader Manoj Bhattacharjee termed Chidambaram's utterances as "irresponsible". He also contested Chidambaram's statement that CPI-M and CPI-Maoist did not confront each other all these years and said this was far from true. "CPI-M is not in collusion with Maoists and the party suffered the maximum number of casualties at their hands," he said.