CPI(M) central committee meeting: Leadership split over having Congress as ally against BJP

The matter was earlier taken up by the CPI(M) politburo and out of 16 members as many as 11, including Prakash Karat, wanted Congress out of electoral equations in future.

kolkata Updated: Jan 19, 2018 21:53 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
CPI(M),CPI(M) Central Committee,Prakash Karat
CPI(M) leaders (L to R) Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, Sitaram Yechury, Biman Bose and Prakash Karat at the beginning of the central committee meeting in Kolkata on Friday.(Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Cornered in Bengal and faced with tough challenge in Kerala and Tripura, the CPI(M) central leadership on Friday found itself split vertically on the question of having Congress as an ally against its biggest threat, the BJP.

The three-day meeting of the CPI(M) central committee took off at the party’s state headquarters with general secretary Sitaram Yechury placing a draft document that argued in favour of an alliance with secular forces including Congress and his predecessor, Prakash Karat, placing a counter document saying Congress cannot be a partner.

Read: BJP targets Kannur, hotbed of Kerala violence, after RSS worker’s death

The matter was earlier taken up by the Politburo and out of 15 members (keeping aside Yechury) as many as 11, including Karat, wanted Congress out of electoral equations in future.

With most of the central committee members being elected during Karat’s tenure as general secretary, and many of them being hardliners, getting his draft resolution passed is going to be an uphill task for Yechury, feel central committee members from Bengal who are on his side although the alliance failed miserably in the 2016 state assembly polls.

Read: ‘Ghar wapsi’ of deserters revitalises Congress in poll-bound Tripura

Most leaders in Bengal feel that Congress is their “natural ally” against BJP and Trinamool Congress.

The 91 members of the central committee are supposed to take a decision on this issue by Sunday because the matter has to be resolved and placed before the next party congress of the CPI(M). Given their sharp differences, the members are likely to resort to voting. “I don’t think a unanimous decision can be reached through discussion,” said a central committee member on the sidelines of the meeting.

The debate continued till late evening on Friday. “The outcome will not only decide the party’s fate in coming elections but will also determine its path,” said a central committee member from Tripura where the BJP is rising fast.

Read: CPI(M) divided over joining hands with Cong for Bengal polls

All top leaders, including Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala and Manik Sarkar, chief minister of Tripura, where assembly polls will be held next month, took part in the discussion behind closed doors. Former Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who campaigned for Left and Congress candidates alongside Rahul Gandhi (then Congress vice president) before the 2016 assembly polls, could not attend because of illness.

In Bengal, where the Marxists once ruled the villages, the crucial panchayat polls later this year may seal the fate of the CPI(M) unless it goes for an alliance with Congress and other parties, state leaders feel. The party will also suffer badly in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls if it contests alone, they say.

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 21:53 IST