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CPI-M caught in a speaker crisis


New Delhi : The CPI-M is facing a speaker crisis – in every which way. With Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee unlikely to give up his post, the party finds itself without any convincing orator to put forward its case in the July 22 trust vote.

At the vanguard of the movement to oust Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government over differences on the India-US civil nuclear, the Communist Party of India-Marxist Friday issued a three-line whip to its remaining 41 MPs to reach the capital on Sunday and remain here for two days.

The party leadership has unsuccesfully exerted pressure on Chatterjee to quit his post and become the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s lead speaker. So it has given senior MP Mohammed Salim the task of leading the attack that begins Monday.

Although Salim is good orator in Hindi – the party also sees the advantage of a Muslim leader initiating the Left’s verbal attack in the Lok Sabha – leaders admit he would not be as “powerful” as the articulate Chatterjee whose eloquence in English is widely acknowledged.

The other public faces of the CPI-M – besides general secretary Prakash Karat – are Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat; and both are members of the Rajya Sabha and therefore unable to take part in the Lok Sabha debate.

Many in the party believe that speakers like Basudeb Acharya and Roopchand Pal may not be able to put forward the argument against the nuclear deal very effectively.

The CPI-M is likely to depend on second rung leaders like Suresh Kurup and Anil Basu to project the Left line effectively in the Lok Sabha. Although Varkkala Radhakrishnan, another senior CPI-M MP, is thorough with his facts and party positions, he is known to be easily provoked.

For the other parties in the Left, the Communist Party of India (CPI) has Gurudas Dasgupta who is noted for his fiery speeches. However, his party colleague C.K. Chandrappan is being looked at as an orator who is precise especially on a subject like the nuclear deal.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doesn’t have too many expert speakers in the Lok Sabha either on a technical subject like the nuclear deal except for Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

However, the treasury benches has a battery of speakers who are knowledgable and articulate. These include Kapil Sibal, Pranab Mukherjee, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, besides Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot amongst the youngsters.