West Bengal Assembly Elections 2016: CPI(M), Left Divided Over Alliance With Congress

01/01/2016 1:40 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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KOLKATA, INDIA - DECEMBER 26: CPI (M) Party General Secretary Sitaram Yechury addressing a press conference on December 26, 2015 in Kolkata, India. Months before the crucial assembly polls in its erstwhile citadels West Bengal and Kerala, the CPI-M begins a five-day plenum here to streamline and strengthen the party organisation. (Photo by Subhendu Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

KOLKATA -- Amidst talks of an alliance between the Marxists and the Congress in the ensuing Assembly election in West Bengal, the CPI(M) and the Left Front seemed to be divided on the electoral tactical line in Bengal.

A section of the state Congress leadership was advocating a tie-up with the Left to defeat Trinamool Congress and it has gained momentum after the grand alliance in Bihar was able to defeat the BJP led NDA.

Although senior state Congress leaders, including state Congress President Adhir Chowdhury, had spoken in favour of alliance in West Bengal, the CPI(M) leadership is yet to take a call on this matter.

According to the CPI(M) leadership, the party is presently in a catch 22 situation. "If the party goes for an alliance with the Congress in Bengal, it will impact party's prospects in Kerala, where Congress is the main opposition of CPI(M) and that state will also go to polls along with Bengal in a few months time," a senior CPI(M) leader told PTI here.

"To oust the TMC the people of the state want us to forge an alliance with secular and democratic forces which include Congress. So whenever the party leadership takes a call on this matter they should keep in mind the opinion and views of the masses," he said.

CPI(M) leaders from Kerala, however, countered the speculation of forging alliance with the Congress in Bengal, saying it would be a contradiction of the official party line adopted in the last party Congress which called for keeping both Congress and BJP at bay.

"We have adopted a official political line in last party congress. So the electoral tactical line of the respective states can't be contradictory to the official line. Whatever electoral tactical line we adopt in Kerala or West Bengal, should not be contradictory or harmful to each other," senior CPI(M) leader from Kerala and politburo member M A Baby, who was here in connection with the just concluded plenum of the CPI(M), told PTI.

Baby's views were echoed by a section of other CPI(M) leaders from Kerala, who were here to attend the Plenum.

"The CPI(M) is a national and not a regional party and it has to stick to the line adopted at the party Congress. The party can't have two political tactical lines for two states," a senior CPI(M) leader from Kerala said on condition of anonymity.

"The CPI(M) can't align with Congress."

The CPI(M) central leadership has asked the Bengal unit to discuss the matter in January and send a proposal in this regard to the central committee and politburo for the final call.

"As far as the electoral strategy of our party is concerned, it will be discussed in the respective state committees considering the ground level situation of the respective states," CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has said.

"The proposal regarding the poll strategy has to come from the state committee first then a decision will be taken in the central committee and politburo."

A large section of CPI(M) state leaders have advocated forging of either an open alliance or an understanding with the Congress to unitedly fight the TMC in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Even Yechury and his predecessor have pointed at the quotient of the "flexible tactical line" in accordance with the ground situation in the states.

"Yes, there can be flexible tactical line after gauging the ground situation of states but that can't be contradictory to the official political-tactical line adopted in party Congress," said the CPI(M) leader from Kerala.

Senior CPI(M) leaders in Bengal like Gautam Deb and many others have "hinted" at forming the alliance with Congress in Bengal.

CPI(M) leadership in Bengal including former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, had admitted that Left parties still have some "deficiencies in terms of strength" in taking on Trinamool Congress on its own.

"We still have deficiencies in terms of taking on TMC on our own. So a united force of secular parties like CPI(M) led Left and Congress would be a suitable force to defeat the TMC and BJP in Bengal," a senior CPI(M) leader said.

The talk of a section of CPI(M) leadership's eagerness to forge alliance with Congress, has not gone down well with the Left ally Forward Bloc and RSP.

"We feel both BJP and Congress are capitalist forces. We should maintain a equi-distance from both these parties. Our party's stand is clear. We are not in favour of aligning with the Congress in order to take on the TMC in West Bengal," AIFB General Secretary Debabrata Biswas told PTI.

"The Left will alone take on the ruling party."

He also wondered what prompted CPI-M to discuss the issue of alliance with the Congress, which is totally contradictory to the party's official line.

"Although we are yet to decide on this matter, we are not convinced about alligning with Congress," RSP state Secretary Khisti Goswami said.

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