In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, Somnath Chatterjee, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, said an alliance between the Congress and the Left Front was not a “political option but a necessity.”
The veteran former communist leader, who described his present status as an independent observer and a “political non-entity”, said that “in the present political context, it is extremely essential for all opposition forces to come together in bringing about a change in the government and in restoring a civilized democratic administration in West Bengal. ”
Chatterjee went on to add that “why not rope in the Congress in this effort?” “In fact, it is not a question of ‘may’any more, now it is a question of ‘should’ – that the Congress and all Left and democratic forces come together to prevent West Bengal from being completely destroyed.”
“If the present situation continues for five more years, the identity of West Bengal will change and get distorted. This should be stopped at any cost,” said Chatterjee, who was invited by Sitaram Yechury to rejoin the CPI(M). Chatterjee appreciated Yechuri’s invitation but turned it down as he felt that he was too old to be in active politics any more.
However, CPM insiders say that despite an overwhelming view favouring an alliance with the Congress, it might not actually happen following objections at the CPM central committee which is scheduled to meet on February 16 and 17 in New Delhi. Barring a couple of leaders in the CPM state secretariat, a majority had wanted the party to forge an alliance with the Congress. But party insiders say that the Kerala state assembly elections which is being held simultaneously with West Bengal and where the LDF and UDF are pitted vehemently against each other in the back drop of an emerging BJP, the alliance move will get buried in the central committee level.
A die-hard fan of former CM Jyoti Basu whom Chatterjee had come to accept as his life’s guru, he recalled how Basu and Indira Gandhi used to have a healthy working and strategic relationship despite both belonging to two different political ideologies.
“They were of different stature. Jyoti Basu, in particular, gave political advice to a host of leaders from different shades who often flocked to him,” said Chatterjee. Basu respected the “people’s will” most and always said that the people will have the last word.
“Today, even if a fraction of that Jyoti Basu brand of politics would have given a different political environment. But sorry, there is not a fraction of Jyoti basu left today,” he rued.
Asked if Sitaram Yechuri and he had any discussion on the issue, Chatterjee said that he was no more into politics and why should Yechuri hold discussion with him.
“But Yechuri did come to meet me in Santiniketan some time back and we had lunch together. We discussed many things,” Chatterjee added.