The central leadership of the Communist Party of India - Marxist must take responsibility for the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha polls that saw its strength coming down from 43 to 16 seats, outgoing Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said on Tuesday night.
"The leadership should admit responsibility. There is need for self-introspection. If there are mistakes, those must be admitted and rectified," Chatterjee told Bengali news channel Star Ananda. He, however, denied media reports that he demanded the resignation of General Secretary Prakash Karat over the party's dismal performance in the elections.
"This was wrongly reported. I referred to the leadership and not any individual. If there are mistakes, it is up to the party to take a decision on it," Chatterjee, who was expelled from the party last year after he refused to resign from the high office in the wake of the Left parties withdrawing support to the Congress-led coalition, said.
Asked whether the drubbing had diminished the Left's role at the national level, he said, "The importance has certainly diminished inside the Parliament. But I hope efforts would be made to restore it."
Stating that the results have indicated that his party was losing touch with the people, he said, "Shortcomings have crept in the (party's) work at the grassroots. A section of party workers had become too arrogant. People had kept this in mind and punished the party. Earlier, even (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi had been punished by the people."
Observing that elections in West Bengal were fought this time on non-national issues, Chatterjee said, "I found issues like Singur and Nandigram came up and not the nuclear deal."
Chatterjee, expelled from CPI-M for violating its whip of voting during the no-confidence motion against the United Progressive Alliance government over the Indo-United States deal, denied that he had supported it.
"All I wanted to know was whether the stand taken by the party would fortify its position. People now realise that the situation would have been much different had the party continued support," he pointed out.
Asked whether the Congress-Trinamool Congress poll alliance in West Bengal would not have happened had the CPI-M continued its support to the UPA government, he said, "The role of the CPI-M would have been strengthened. It should have been remembered that the party did not fare well in the panchayat elections."
The people, Chatterjee said, had not taken kindly to the CPI-M's hobnobbing with the Bahujan Samaj Party and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in its bid to form the Third Front.
"No Left party, especially CPI-M, should have taken allies without deciding on policies. They called for a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative. But pro what? What will be their policies? Besides, all these parties were earlier close to the Bharatiya Janata Party," he said.