The Left skipped UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s Iftar on Monday because it wanted to avoid sending any signal of cosiness with the Congress outside Parliament despite her invitation to break bread together.
A senior CPI(M) leader on Tuesday said attending Gandhi’s Iftar would have sent a wrong political message since the Leftist party was keen on charting its own independent electoral course to reverse the setbacks it had suffered in elections over the past few years.
“Elections in West Bengal and Kerala are due next year. Bihar will go to polls in a few months. In all three states, the Congress is our adversary. Any proximity with the Congress at this juncture will confuse our voters,” a Left leader said.
It was a departure from some party leaders’ views that an alliance with the Congress could be considered for assembly elections in West Bengal. This line of thought goes against the CPI(M)’s recent decision to keep off any such move.
Since CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury was away in London, some of the politburo members met Saturday to take a call on the Congress’s invitation to the Iftar. Yechury also spoke to his colleagues over phone.
In the internal assessment, the party saw the gathering as a “political event” that was being held under the leadership of the Congress. The CPI(M), however, made it absolutely clear that its issue-based coordination with the Congress on the floor of Parliament would continue.
Politics was not on Congress president Gandhi’s Iftar table, though. She was more interested in other issues, such as a long discussion on autism and even demanding to know the Hindi word for it from party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Sources said Gandhi fondly recalled how she would cook firni for husband Rajiv Gandhi during Eid.
Congress managers had reserved a seat for the CPI(M) representative at Gandhi’s table, the sources said.
But the CPI(M) couldn’t afford to attend a Congress Iftar as it has lined up a series of political programmes, including a “public hearing” of farmers on land issues on July 23, to revive its fortunes.
It has called a Bihar bandh on July 21 and will observe a protest day against corruption by the BJP on July 20. “These programmes are aimed to rejuvenate Left unity. The Congress has no role to play here,” said a communist leader.