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Getting feelers from CPI, Cong forms committee to poach Left

In its bid to consolidate the secular vote bank, the Congress has formed a three-member committee for holding talks with its erstwhile ally — the Communist Party of India (CPI) — for an electoral alliance in the forthcoming Punjab assembly polls.

punjab Updated: Oct 20, 2016 09:48 IST
Prabhjit Singh
Senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal
Senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal(HT File Photo)

In its bid to consolidate the secular vote bank, the Congress has formed a three-member committee for holding talks with its erstwhile ally — the Communist Party of India (CPI) — for an electoral alliance in the forthcoming Punjab assembly polls.

The last time CPI had an alliance with the Congress was in 2002 assembly polls when it had won two seats.

All India Congress Committee secretary Harish Chaudhary and senior leaders Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Lal Singh are likely to hold talks with the Punjab unit of the CPI within 2-3 days. Sources said CPI was demanding five assembly seats.

“It is important to consolidate the secular vote bank to curb the growing religious fundamentalism that the Congress and the Left have traditionally been fighting against for long,” Bhattal told HT, confirming the Congress’ willingness to join hands with the CPI.

She said the three-member committee was formed on the direction of the party’s high command, and with the consent of Punjab in-charge Asha Kumari and state president Capt Amarinder Singh.

The CPI’s secretariat had met on Sunday and the state leadership was given the green signal to hold parleys with the Congress on seat-sharing, party sources told HT.

The CPI has zeroed in on six seats in case of an alliance works out with the Congress. Four of the seats are: Bathinda, Mansa, Nihalsinghwala (all having Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs) and Amritsar-West (currently with the Congress), sources said.

LEFT MEET FAILS TO REACH CONSENSUS

The crucial meeting of the four main Left parties of Punjab— CPI, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), CPI (ML)-Liberation and Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI) on Wednesday failed to reach a consensus on contesting the state elections together. It was the CPI that put its foot down, seeking more time to decide on the issue. The CPI leadership led by the party central committee member Dr Jogidner Dayal also conveyed that the Congress was keen on an alliance, sources said.

While Dayal and CPI Punjab secretary Hardev Arshi refused to talk on the issue, a combined press statement signed by the leadership of all the four parties said: “There is a need for the Left and secular parties to join hands against parties propagating policies in favour of privatisation and corporatisation.”

The CPM leadership conveyed to the CPI in the meeting that its central leadership had already decided against any handshake with the Congress, which was also endorsed by the CPI(ML)Liberation and the RMPI.