"There was no question of Somnath Chatterjee ever being nominated as a presidential candidate. We would not want our party member to be reading presdential address of other parties. We refused the offer of prime minister then because it is not ours," says a CPI-M leader.
So, did the party suggest the name of Pranab Mukhrejee? "We did not. It was the Congress who brought up his name. He was part of the Congress list of names. And then they said he was too important for them."
Did the party feel that Shiv Raj Patil was pro-Hindutva? "We did not say that. Mr Bardhan of the CPI said it. And he should not have done that."
Will the Left want the vice-president's post? "No. We are not interested."
Despite all our hatred of a Marxist party, there is something to be said for the consummate political scrupulosity that the party is displaying in this presidential poll, where both the Congress and the BJP have made such a mess, and showed themselves to be so utterly confused, utterly incompetent.
We cannot say whether this admirable restraint on the part of CPI-M is part of a long-term historical view and part of a revolutionary strategy. But it can certainly be said that the CPI-M is trying to play by the norms of bourgeois, liberal democracy. Better than the other bourgeois parties.
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