CPM MLA Tanmay Bhattacharya Saturday participated in a rally organised by Congress to protest price rise despite the Left Front Legislature Party’s decision not to take part in the event.
“I didn’t come here on behalf of my party. I came here as an individual and as a common man of the state because I support the issue on which the Congress is organising the programme,” Bhattacharya said.
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On whether it would be treated as an act of defiance, the MLA from Dum Dum North said, “Nobody has the right to disrespect people’s opinion or mandate. Two months ago, we had fought as an alliance and got 2.15 crore votes. I don’t have the audacity to disrespect the mandate of the people and I think nobody should have that audacity. The people had elected me as a candidate of the (Left-Congress) alliance.”
The Congress, which had organised the rally to protest the price rise in the country as well as in the state, had invited CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra. But after the CPM’s state unit faced flak from the party’s central leadership last week over entering into an alliance with Congress before the assembly elections and “flouting the official party line”, the state leadership and the Left Front Legislature Party Friday decided not to join the rally.
A CPM leader had Friday said that while the two parties will continue to work on issues like “attack on democracy”, they will carry out rallies and protests on other matters separately. Accepting that there will be coordination inside the Assembly between the two parties, leaders have said that outside, however, “we would work separately”.
After the Dum Dum MLA’s decision to defy his party line, a senior CPM leader said that the matter was being looked into. “This is a matter of one individual going to the rally on his own. The party as a whole did not participate. As far as how and why this individual attended the rally, we are looking into it,” the senior leader said.
Bhattacharya, however, said he doesn’t think what he did was “an anti-party activity”. The CPM legislator said he would answer if the top leadership asks him to explain his decision.
“The party never said that we cannot attend a rally or a protest. It simply said that the CPM needs to be strengthened independent of any other party, in our individual activities, which we are doing. There is no ban on attending rallies,” Bhattacharya told The Sunday Express.
The leader also termed the Congress as “one of the most important parts of this democracy”, which, he said, “needs to be restored”. “By electing me, the people of my constituency have elected the CPM-Congress jot (alliance). It is impossible to scan the votes and tell how many came from the supporters of Left and how many from that of Congress. My responsibility is to my voters – from both the Left and the Congress – and to my constituents. I just spoke in the assembly today about price rise. How could I not attend a rally on the same issue?” he said.
CPM leader in the Assembly Sujan Chakrabarty said, “I will speak to Tanmay about why he joined the rally. He said he had gone in his individual capacity.”
On whether action will be taken against Bhattacharya, Chakrabarty said, “Let us talk first. We haven’t thought whether action will be taken or not.”
However, RSP, a Left Front partner, took exception to Bhattacharya’s participation in the Congress rally, with party MLA Biswanath Chowdhury saying, “Bhattacharya shouldn’t have defied the legislative party’s decision.”
The Congress, on the other hand, stressed that their “alliance would continue”. “The Left has not left us,” Congress’s state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said as he welcomed Bhattacharya’s participation. “Those CPM leaders and their allies who don’t want the Left and Congress to continue their alliance forgot that it was formed by the grass-root level workers of both the parties and not the leaders.”
Congress leader O P Mishra who participated in the rally said, “Despite the dictum of central leadership and what people have been saying, we have decided to move ahead with the jot. The demand of the people of Bengal is that the Congress and the Left work together.”
(With inputs from PTI)