CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury ruled out on Monday any pre-poll alliance with the Congress in West Bengal, hours after state Congress leaders told party vice-president Rahul Gandhi they want such a pact for this year’s assembly election.
“We will have no alliance or front with the Congress though our issue-based collaboration with the party will continue,” the Left leader declared at a function in Lucknow.
Yechury, however, did not rule out the possibility of extending outside support to the Congress wherever and whenever it was needed to keep the BJP out of power.
Earlier in the day, the Congress leaders told Gandhi they prefer a tie-up with the CPI(M), the party’s arch rival in the eastern state as well as Kerala for decades, but vehemently opposed any alignment with West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress, an erstwhile ally.
According to sources, Gandhi told his party lieutenants that “earlier state unit’s views had been compromised for the sake of national-level political compulsions” but he is not in favour of going against the wishes of the state leadership. “I will talk to the Congress president and tell you the final decision,” he said.
However, Yechury’s announcement signalled that the Congress may have to fight the polls alone.
In the meeting with Gandhi, barring MLA Manas Bhuiyan and former MP Deepa Dasmunsi, all state Congress leaders were in favour of an alliance with the Left.
“I said in the meeting that even in my district where the Congress had fought the Left fiercely, people want an alliance,” Adhir Chowdhury, the party’s West Bengal chief, told HT. “I want to respect the sentiment of those people.”
Sources said a section of the CPI(M) is sceptical about any tie-up with the Congress. “It would be difficult to transfer votes to each other’s party as both sides have always fought against each other,” said a politburo member. He also pointed out that the party’s recent political-tactical line also spoke about strengthening ties with Left-democratic forces.
The Left provided crucial support from outside to the first UPA government between 2004 and 2008, but the two sides had a bitter separation over the Indo-US nuclear deal.