M A I N   N E W S

Basu tells Somnath to toe party line
Tribune News Service & Agencies

Kolkata, July 13
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee separately met veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu at his Salt Lake residence, here today. They apprised him of the latest political situation arising out of withdrawal of support to the UPA government by the Left parties.

According to party insiders, the Marxist patriarch conveyed to Chatterjee (79) the need for projecting a united face of the Left during the trust vote on July 22. Basu is believed to have been requested by the party to persuade Chatterjee, who is apparently not too keen on stepping down. Emerging from the meeting at Basu’s residence, Chatterjee refused to speak to waiting newsmen and drove off. Basu also was not available for comment.

Three days ago, after the Left parties withdrew support to the UPA government, CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters that it was up to the Speaker to decide whether or not to continue at the post. But Karat had thrown enough hints when he said Chatterjee would take the decision in the light of the party’s stand. The latter had then said the Speaker’s post was above party politics. Chatterjee was also aggrieved that without any intimation, his name was included in the list of MPs withdrawing support from the UPA. The list was sent to the President Pratibha Patil.

Earlier, CPM leader A.B. Bardhan said in Delhi that Chatterjee is “competent” to take a decision on his own knowing the political situation. The CPM has maintained a public posture that it has not taken any decision asking the Speaker to quit. Another leader Sitaram Yechury said Chatterjee understands the current scenario and hoped he would take an appropriate decision at the right time.

Meanwhile, after his meeting with Basu, Pranab Mukherjee told mediapersons that as the leader of the UPA-Left coalition in the Lok Sabha, he had explained to Basu why the coalition was now breaking and the UPA’s stand on the nuclear deal. “I called on Basu to apprise him about the situation; under what circumstances did the Left and UPA fail to get along and what are the failures,” said Pranab.



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