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CPI(M) rules out alliance with Congress: Why Prakash Karat is still powerful in the party

A proposal moved by party CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury to stitch a pre-poll understanding with the Congress was defeated on Sunday.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2018 15:44 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
CPI(M),Prakash Karat,CPI(M) Congress alliance
Left Front chairman Biman Bose and former CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat during party's central committee meeting, in Kolkata.(PTI Photo)

Prakash Karat may no longer be the general secretary of the CPI(M). But even after three years of leaving the post, he proved on Sunday that he still has enough clout in the party.

Karat, who had steadfastly supported Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, is now reaping the benefits. The powerful Kerala lobby, which also has the largest number of members in the politburo and the central committees, has backed Karat against Yechury’s liberal line.

“During the tussle between VS Achuthanandan, the then CM of Kerala, and then party’s state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, Karat defended Vijayan while Yechury backed Achuthanandan,” a central committee member pointed out.

In one of the rare occasions on Sunday, a proposal moved by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury was defeated and the central committee opted to support Karat’s line.

Three years ago, it was the same central committee that had elected Yechury as general secretary after the West Bengal leaders threatened to demand a voting — a rare instance in the regimented party. But on Sunday, on the issue of stitching a pre-poll understanding with the Congress and other parties, the majority of the party backed Karat.

Another reason, a politburo member pointed out, is that a large number of members have ideological discomfort about the Congress. Many members, especially in Kerala and Tamil Nadu look at the Congress as an equal adversary as the BJP. Karat, a hardliner, also holds the same opinion and it was easy for him to mobilise votes.

Other members point out that last year the central committee had also turned down the proposal to take the Congress’ help for Yechury’s candidature for the Rajya Sabha election. The CPI(M), already cornered in the national politics, lost a precious seat but the party sent a clear message that it can’t be seen hand in glove with the Congress.

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 15:44 IST