At the end of three days of discussion, the CPI(M) Central Committee stood vertically split on the question of the party’s approach towards the Congress in the 2019 general elections. Sources said of the 63 members who spoke, 32 favoured the line put forward by Prakash Karat, while 31 backed general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s view. There was no voting though.
Both Karat and Yechury agree that the primary objective is to oust the Narendra Modi government from power. Both also believe there cannot be any electoral understanding with the Congress. But Yechury believes that the party should seek the “cooperation” of all non-Left secular parties (including the Congress). This, in effect, will keep a window open as far as the party’s approach towards the Congress is concerned. Karat, on the other hand, believes the party should cooperate with all “non-Congress” secular parties.
The opinion in the Central Committee, which discussed the “minority draft” submitted by Yechury, a document circulated by the Karat faction as a counter to it, and the “outline” of the draft officially approved by the Politburo, was divided. Averting a vote, as this would have sent the signal that the party was vertically split, a compromise formula was worked out.
While both Yechury and Karat came up with some proposals, it was finally agreed that the Politburo should prepare the draft resolution to be presented before the party’s national conclave next year, “on the basis of the Politburo outline and the discussions in the Central Committee”.
In effect, the tussle between the Yechury and Karat factions will continue, or even intensify, as the party gets ready for its triennial conclave in Hyderabad in April. It also means that the line of cooperation with the Congress put forward by Yechury is still alive, although his draft stands rejected, and the Karat faction continues to have an upper hand, both in the Central Committee and Politburo.
The draft of the political resolution will be prepared in the next two months, and the Politburo is expected to meet in December to discuss it. The Central Committee is scheduled to meet in January to discuss and give its final approval to the draft resolution.
Meeting reporters after the Central Committee meeting, Yechury was not forthcoming on what transpired but did say that all “options are open”. He also said that the BJP government is pursuing neo-liberal policies more aggressively than the UPA government.
The Central Committee also publicly censured Gautam Deb for his objectionable remarks against Karat. Yechury told reporters that Deb has already admitted that what he said was “wrong” and expressed his regret. “But the Central Committee decided to publicly censure him,” he said. Sources said the Karat faction wanted Deb to be dropped from the Central Committee, but he was let off with a public censure.