The electoral pact between the CPM-led Left Front and the Congress in West Bengal was not in consonance with the party line, the CPM Politburo concluded Monday, after two days of heated debate. The conclusion meant that Prakash Karat’s anti-Congress line of thought prevailed, deepening the schism between the Karat camp and the pro-cooperation Sitaram Yechury and the Bengal leadership.
“…The electoral tactics evolved in West Bengal was not in consonance with the Central Committee decision based on the political-tactical line of the party, which states that there shall be no alliance or understanding with the Congress party,” a statement by the Politburo said.
The two-day meeting saw Karat and many central leaders such as Subhashini Ali argue that the Bengal unit transgressed the political-tactical line. They said that the Bengal unit should have strived for advancing the independent strength of the party and projecting the Left democratic alternative instead of aligning with a bourgeoisie party.
- CPM Politburo fails to reach consensus on 2019 Lok Sabha poll approach
- CPI(M) politburo meet: No consensus on political understanding with Congress
- CPM politburo meet: No political understanding with Congress, Prakash Karat faction insists
- Politburo meet today, Sitaram Yechury won’t push for alliance with Congress
- CPI(M)'s priority is to defeat RSS-BJP combine: Sitaram Yechury
- CPM Politburo Takes Stand Against Bengal Pact: What It Means
Bengal leaders, sources said, argued that the cooperation was part of “people’s resistance” to fight the Trinamool, which had unleashed a “campaign of terror”. Sources said they even advocated continuation of the “joint struggle” to take on the TMC. They argued that the alliance was needed for the survival of the party in the state. At the end, the Karat line prevailed and, in a rare development, the Politburo made public its conclusion.
Yechury later told reporters that there will still be “united struggles” and resistance with the Congress and other secular parties in Bengal against the violence unleashed by the TMC against the opposition. The Politburo noted that the “the strength of the people’s unity is the answer to meet this unprecedented unleashing of violence”.
Bengal leaders also indulged in wordplay later, arguing that the Politburo used the word “evolved”, which is a vindication of their stance. A senior Politburo member, however, said, “How can a tactic evolve on its own. It is just wordplay,” he told The Indian Express.
Asked why the party had not intervened during the campaign, when the alliance was quite visible — Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee even shared the stage with Rahul Gandhi — he said the party did not want to disturb the elections. He said the Politburo would have come to the same conclusion even if the party had won. “It has nothing to do with the results,” the Politburo member said. The decision means the CPM state units will not have the flexibility to repeat the Bengal experiment with Congress or dominant regional parties in upcoming polls.
The Congress said the CPM need not be wise by hindsight. “Everybody can be wise by hindsight… there was a conscious arrangement, not a coalition. I think we should be as graceful in victory, semi-victory or defeat…. They have the right to discuss (the results) within their party,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said.