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Monday, October 12, 1998
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CPM calls for third front
Politburo formation put off

CALCUTTA, Oct 11 (PTI) — In line with the new tactical stand, the CPM today suggested the formation of a third front without shutting off the Congress as the party evolved a compromise between hardliners and moderates in finalising a strategy to counter the BJP, the "main enemy".

Apparently under pressure from hardliners who favoured a third front against the BJP and the Congress, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, who was elected party general-secretary for another term, spoke of such a move galvanising secular and democratic forces but at the same time asserted "secular elements" in the Congress were welcome to join the fight against communal forces.

Addressing a mammoth rally at the historic Brigade Parade Ground at the end of the CPM’s 16th congress, he accused the BJP of "threatening national unity" and asked secular elements in the Congress to "join us in fighting communal forces which glorify the killers of Mahatma Gandhi."

Mr Surjeet said the CPM would keep in mind the mistakes of the UF experiment in forming the third front.

Following the party’s new tactical line, Mr Surjeet and West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu lambasted the BJP for trying to "divide the country on the basis of religion" and said that no state could survive on the basis of religion. Only the secular and federal structure of the country could keep it united.

Taking a dig at the BJP-led alliance, Mr Surjeet said the relations among the allies were so fragile that they had to meet over a tea party, in an obvious reference to the AIADMK supremo, J. Jayalalitha’s function in Delhi on Friday.

Mr Surjeet and Mr Basu criticised the Congress for economic liberalisation and asked it to change its policies to prevent the BJP from gaining mileage.

Mr Surjeet had earlier ruled out launching any joint movement with the Congress saying that the CPM had no common ground with the party. He stated that apart from economic issues, his party had differences with the Congress on many other issues as well.

The party congress had decided to provide issue-based support to the Congress only if it took up the responsibility in the event of the collapse of the Vajpayee Government due to its own contradictions to avoid another election.

Meanwhile, the CPM today deferred the formation of its new Politburo till December in view of the assembly elections in four states even as the party congress concluded here with a call for a new third front against the BJP and a welcome to "secular elements" in the Congress to join the struggle against communal forces.

The Central Committee of the party will meet in Delhi in December after the polls to constitute the new Politburo, which was scheduled for today, West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu said.

The existing Politburo would continue to function in the interim period, he said after a brief morning session on the concluding day of the 16th party congress here.

The 15-member Politburo has three vacancies following the death of Mr Sunil Moitra, Mr E.M.S. Namboodiripad and Mr Nallashivan.

Speculation was rife in political circles on the induction of Mr Anil Biswas and Mr Biman Bose, both Central Committee members from West Bengal, and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, also a Central Committee member, into the Politburo this time.

Asked whether the constitution of the new Politburo was deferred since the stakes were high, General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet quipped: "Don’t worry, you will come to know everything in December."

Earlier, Mr Surjeet was unanimously re-elected General Secretary for another term.

The party congress also elected 67 members to the 75-member Central Committee. The remaining eight Central Committee members would be elected later.

Eleven new faces were inducted into the Central Committee, while eight members were dropped.

The 11 new entrants included Mr Somnath Chatterjee and Mr Nirupam Sen (West Bengal), Mr P. Vijayan, Mr P.K. Gurudasan and P. Karunakaran (Kerala), P. Ramiah (Andhra Pradesh), Mr Aghore Debbarma (Tripura), Mr Ashok Dhawale (Maharastra), Mr Subodh Mehta (Gujarat) and Mr Mohar Singh (Himachal Pradesh).

Meanwhile, the CPM today deferred the formation of its new Politburo till December in view of the assembly elections in four states.


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