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CPM general secretary Prakash Karat Refuses to Step Down

BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter

New Delhi: Days after he talked of a cap on tenure for official positions in his party, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat refused to shoulder the blame for the electoral debacle in West Bengal, where the Left Front was dislodged from the throne after 34 years of uninterrupted run and ruled out any chances of him stepping down from the top post of the party.

“I didn’t take credit for the 2006 electoral victories,” he said in reply to a question whether he would take moral responsibility for the poll setback. “Why should I take the blame alone for the defeat of 2011,” he told a private television channel in an interview.

Asked if he would step down, he said, “That’s not how we (the CPM) function, when the ship is going through a stormy phase we don’t jump the ship. The leadership doesn’t, that means neither me nor Buddhadeb Bhatacharjee (former West Bengal chief minister who lost in his own seat in the election) will resign (as Polit Bureau members).”

Last year, the central committee of CPM had discussed the need for a cap on tenure in key positions from the district to the central level of the party. The high-level decision-making body of the party also decided to take a call on the matter at the next Party Congress to be held next year.

Ever since he steered the party to vote against Congress at the Centre over the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008, Karat had come under attack, publicly and privately, from within the party, especially from CPM in West Bengal.

Much to Karat’s delight, the ‘Bengal line’ seems to have lost its sting following the massive election rout in the state.

Karat also told the TV channel that the party never denied former Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan a ticket to contest the elections this time around. Calling him a pre-eminent leader of the party in the state, Karat noted: “It is wrong. There was never a decision to deny him a ticket, it was merely one view expressed.” In Kerala, thanks largely to ‘VS factor’, the CPM-led Left Democratic Front managed a decent score card, losing to the Congress-led United Democratic Front by a slender margin.

On Monday, Karat had claimed that CPM in Kerala was more united in this election than the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when Achuthanandan, protesting against the style of functioning of his arch-rival and state party chief Pinarayi Vijayan, stayed away from the campaign, until the polit bureau intervened.

Karat, who has so far backed Vijayan in the factional tussle in the state unit, has, following the poll verdict, termed the use of Achuthanandan’s posters in poll campaign quite normal. “Even Jyoti Basu’s pictures were used in the past,” he said. Vijayan had called use of pictures on poll posters a “new trend that needed to be looked into”.

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