May 14, 2009

I wanted to die as an ordinary member of CPI(M): Somnath

Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: “I’m not an enemy of the party, that I can assure you…If my expulsion has helped the party to become stronger, I’d be happy; though I’m saddest that I wanted to die as an ordinary member of the CPI(M) and that will not happen,” Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

“I came all the way from Delhi only to vote for the party,” Mr. Chatterjee, who voted in the Kolkata Dakshin constituency earlier on Wednesday, said. He said he had declined “a plum offer.” He chose not to elaborate on what that was.

Though “apprehensive” that the number of seats the Left parties win could be fewer this time, Mr. Chatterjee, who was expelled from the party in July 2008, said, “It will continue to remain important in the national scenario.”

“But I’ve a few doubts on how the party is proceeding…I could never imagine that the Left parties will be so keen to form an alliance with leaders like Jayalalithaa or Mayawati who do not even have the pretension of being progressive or Left,” Mr. Chatterjee said.
He wondered “on what basis” such an alliance was being considered, one “without any programmatic understanding and with only a negative aspect.” “Today, you’re making the Left irrelevant in India,” Mr. Chatterjee argued. “I hope it remains relevant.”

The Left is “now fighting a defensive battle, not an offensive one,” Mr. Chatterjee observed. “Today, it’s a mess in Kerala, in West Bengal too. I wish sincerely that the party had become stronger with my expulsion,” he added.

“In almost 10 months [since his expulsion] I’ve not spoken a word against the party and have accepted its decision without any questions. I never wanted to embarrass the party,” he said.“I must have made a mistake obviously so far as the party is concerned, and I feel extremely sad,” Mr. Chatterjee said, referring to his expulsion. “But I’ve not been informed of the real reasons…”
“I’ve been characterised as a betrayer. I did not want any certificate from the party but if somebody takes away my pride — my only possession — I feel very upset, very sad… I became a member of the party in early 1973 and my membership had been the proudest possession of my life,” he added.

On whether he would respond to any move that the CPI(M) leadership might make to re-induct him into it, Mr. Chatterjee said: “I will not respond. There should be a proper change of heart, not just an expression. I am not an enemy of the party, that I can assure you.”

The Hindu, 13th May,2009

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