WB Speaker wants to retire from politics

Kolkata: West Bengal Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim has expressed a desire not to contest elections any more, citing his poor health.

"I have informed the party (CPI-M) that due to ill health I am not willing to contest elections any more. The party will take a decision on it," Halim, who has been Speaker for 29 years, told a press conference here on Tuesday. The 76-year-old leader said that he had told his party prior to the 2006 assembly polls that he was not willing to contest on health grounds, but did so after being persuaded.

Halim was shifted to the Entally constituency in the 2006 assembly elections from Amdanga in North 24 Parganas from where he had won since 1977.

"I am hopeful that party will now allow me to retire," Halim, who was hospitalised in Singapore a month ago, said. Asked whether his retirement, when minority votes were eroding for the Left Front, would have a negative effect, Halim replied, "in parliamentary democracy some party will win and some lose. A particular leader's retirement has very little effect on the overall election process."

Admitting that there has been a sharp decline in minority votes for the Left Front in the last Lok Sabha elections, Halim said, "It is true that minority votes have eroded, but our party is going to the people and we hope to regain our position very soon."