PD no longer exists says Grasso (2)

Martina, Franceschini chide Senate Speaker, Renzi thanks him

(ANSA) - Rome, November 10 - A row ensued Friday after Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso said Thursday the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD) "no longer exists", in explaining his recent decision to leave the party.
    Senior PD members chided Grasso but leader Matteo Renzi thanked him. "I don't know if it was I who left the PD or the PD that no longer exists," Grasso said. He said the "real PD" was that of former leader Pier Luigi Bersani. Responding Friday, deputy PD head Mauruzio Martina, the agriculture minister, said "we respect Grasso and we ask for respect in turn". He said Grasso should respect the PD, "made up of thousands of women and men who every day, everywhere do politics with passion and generosity for the common good".
    Another PD bigwig, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, said Grasso's opinions on the PD "could not be shared".
    He said "I esteem and respect him but I'm sorry for what he said." Grasso's words, Franceschini stressed, were "absolutely not to be shared".
    PD leader Matteo Renzi said he would like to thank Grasso. "Let's go forward, I won't start any row and I deal with concrete things," said the ex-premier. Renzi said "I reply to a controversy with a thank you without injecting further elements of tension". Renzi thanked Grasso for "declaring admissible the amendment that makes it optional to accompany children to school".
    The PD is currently licking its wounds after a poor showing in Sicilian regional elections Sunday.
    Grasso is widely expected to join the Progressive and Democratic Movement (MDP), a splinter group from the PD that is led by Bersani and others.
    He has been touted to lead a leftwing alliance formed by the MDP and other small leftist parties into the next general election.
    That election is expected in March or May next year.