Kolkata : The CPI-M Wednesday expelled veteran leader and former West Bengal minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah for "serious anti-party activities" and "belittling the party's image in public". A nonchalant Mollah said he was waiting for the decision.
The decision to show the door to the popular peasant leader, who has been a legislator for 42 years without a break since 1972, was taken at a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretariat meeting during the day.
"It has been decided to expel comrade Rezzak Mollah from the party for serious anti-party activity and for belittling the party's image in public," the party said in a brief statement.
"It's most welcome, I have been waiting for it," Mollah told IANS, reacting to his expulsion.
Mollah, a CPI-M state committee member, Feb 23 launched "Social Justice Forum" - a pro-Dalit and minority outfit - and said it would contest the 2016 assembly polls. He then hinted at quitting the party at a later stage, asserting that he cannot be a part of two outfits simultaneously.
The axe came down on Mollah, a leader known for his earthy humour and grassroots support and one of the handful of CPI-M leaders to have won the assembly polls in 2011 when the Left Front was routed, as the Marxists struggled to maintain inner-party discipline.
Following Mollah, former Lok Sabha member Lakshman Seth recently criticised the leadership alleging "autocracy and individualism are replacing democracy" in the party.
Seth is facing an organisational probe for corruption and anti-party activity.
For long vocal against his own party leadership, particularly politburo member and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Mollah recently derided the "upper class hegemony" in the party and accused the erstwhile Left Front government of neglecting the welfare of Dalits and minorities of the state.
Mollah, a former land reforms minister, during his ministerial tenure openly protested the land acquisition procedure followed in Singur in Hooghly district for the Nano car plant of the Tata Motors.
After the party-led Left Front was dethroned in the 2011 state assembly elections, Mollah ridiculed Bhattacharjee and then industries minister Nirupam Sen, chiefly blaming them for the defeat.
He further earned the party's wrath by going for Haj, something considered an anathema in the Communist party known for its atheist philosophy.
However, Mollah's relations with the top leadership temporarily improved after he was hospitalised following an alleged attack by Trinamool Congress activists last year. Even Bhattacharjee went to see him at the hospital.
But Mollah again donned the dissenter's hat when he criticised the party in the midst of the rural bodies polls last year.
He called for restructuring the organisation, saying the present middle-class leaders would not be able to cause a turnaround in the party's fortunes by taking on the ruling Trinamool Congress.
Late last month, Mollah lambasted his party for nominating student leader Ritabrata Banerjee as its candidate for the Feb 7 Rajya Sabha polls.
"His nomination proves that people even indulging in club culture can get nomination. When I entered the party, only after working in the labour and peasant wings could people rise in ranks. But now the party is full of middle and upper class people," Mollah said.