Though the CPM and the CPI’s central leadership tried their best to play down their embarrassing clash over the Ponanni Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, the deadlock persisted. Top leaders D. Raja of the CPI and Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury of the CPM failed to reach consensus on Friday evening.
Both the CPI and CPM have announced their support for different candidates for the Ponnani seat. The confrontation has snowballed into a major row, with the state CPI threatening to pull out of the ruling Left Front alliance.
Four seats, including Pon-nani, were traditionally allotted to the CPI in the Left Front’s seat sharing deal in Kerala. But the CPM wants to back an Independent here. According to CPM’s assessment, neither a CPM nor CPI candidate is in a position to win in Ponnani, while the Independent is.
“Since the CPI has been given four seats in Kerala, we should have the prerogative to decide the candidates. This is our stand,” said Raja.
Kerala CPI chief Veliyam Bhargavan said that the party would field candidates in all the Kerala Lok Sabha seats if the CPM refused to support its candidate in Ponnani. He said the CPI would not tolerate the CPM’s “high-handedness”.
Raja, however, struck a more conciliatory note. “There are differences, but they will be resolved,” he said. “The understanding reached at the meeting with CPM is that the CPI will have a say in who contests the seat. We will have another round of discussions.”