The ghost of the Indo-US nuclear deal returned to haunt Prakash Karat on Thursday as the CPM general secretary came under criticism from West Bengal delegates at the party congress. Bengal comrades argued that the tactics and strategy adopted by the central leadership for blocking the deal were wrong,which paved the way for the Congress-Trinamool tie-up that proved to be disastrous for the party in its citadel.
The crux of their argument put forth by former Bengal finance minister Asim Dasgupta was that the leadership had made mistakes in taking decisions. Among them was the withdrawal of support to the UPA I,which was taken without considering the ground realities and political situation in Bengal. But Karat stuck to his stand,saying that snapping of ties was a correct decision,but admitted that it should have been done earlier before the government going to the IAEA.
The Bengal comrades,however,would not engage in the timing of the withdrawal debate. They argued that the leadership erred in assessing the situation and failed on several counts. It is other matter that it was the same Bengal leaders who had advised the top brass against withdrawing support on an earlier occasion citing panchayat polls. Although Karat and the partys brass in Bengal have never been on the same page on this issue,the fresh criticism has further strained the ties.
While the Bengal leadership pointed fingers at the central one,the confidential political organisational report circulated to the delegates pointed out serious organisational lapses in Bengal. It talked about the spread of corruption and bureaucratic style of functioning among leaders and referred to behavioural issues like arrogance among the cadre. At the end,the debate over who will take the responsibility for the defeat was far from over. Although the party cited ill health as the reason for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjees absence,many believe that the real reason was the continuing differences over what led to the defeat.
Sources said that it was not just the Bengal delegates,but the leadership came under fire from members belonging to other states as well. It is learnt that the leaderships decision to join hands with the likes of Mayawati and Jayalalithaa to present an alternative to the Congress and BJP in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls came under criticism from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra delegates.
Sources said delegates from Kerala rallied behind Karat on withdrawal of support.
Karat,however,told reporters that he was not aware of any Bengal leaders talking about whose mistakes or what.
Significantly,Karat told the politburo that the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government underestimated the agitation in Singur and could not gauge its intensity. We thought compensation and rehabilitation package offered were fair and adequate and that the project should go ahead…We now realise that even 20 per cent opposition is enough to stop a project, he said.
Karats decision to share the blame is being seen as extension of an olive branch to the Bengal unit.