The CPI(M) central leadership said on Sunday that its Bengal unit cannot have an electoral alliance with the Congress, virtually bringing an end to a five-month roller coaster ride that was marked by public debate and opposition from within and by the Left party’s allies.
The development came as a setback to the pro-alliance Bengal leaders, including former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, and the general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who had resisted critics who opposed the tie-up ahead of the Bengal polls. Leaders from Kerala and Tripura, where the Congress is the CPI(M)’s principal opposition, had raised objections.
After the crushing poll defeat of the alliance and the emergence of the Congress as the main opposition in Bengal, CPI(M) central leaders wanted an end to the agreement. It was Yechury who had to make the announcement on Sunday in the presence of his predecessor and hardliner, Prakash Karat, whose influence on the party’s Kerala unit is widely known.
“Having an understanding with the Congress or not having an understanding with the Congress is not the issue here. The issue is that our party’s political-tactical line adopted at our last party congress does not permit any electoral understanding or seat adjustment with the Congress. To resist Trinamool atrocities in Bengal we need to have a wider people’s platform on the streets and the Congress can be a part of that. But we cannot have an electoral tie-up with Congress,” Yechury reportedly said in his 33-minute address to the Bengal state committee at Alimuddin Street.
“The Congress is a secular party but its stance on communal issues has not been above question. On the other hand, the Trinamool has turned out to be a fascist party. Under the circumstances, the CPI(M) has to recover lost ground and strengthen itself on the basis of its own ideology,” Yechury said.
Though at least 10 politburo members were supposed to be present, Brinda Karat and SR Pillai did not attend the crucial meeting. Among those present, four were from Bengal. Those from outside were Yechury, Karat, MA Baby (Kerala) and Hannan Mollah (central secretariat).
A number of state committee members who addressed the politburo during the day demanded another party plenum in Bengal to discuss and decide the organisational line to be adopted for Bengal. Gautam Deb, a former minister and a follower of Bhattacharjee, reportedly supported the move. However, no decision on the date was taken till Sunday night, said state committee members after the day’s proceedings got adjourned.