Days after the Congress plenary indicated a pragmatic approach for a coalition of like-minded parties, the CPM on Thursday said the Congress “has no credibility to lead such an alliance in terms of an alternative program”. However, in his editorial in the latest issue of the party mouthpiece People’s Democracy, Prakash Karat, who has been opposing any truck with the Congress, indicated that in the states where the Congress is the major force against the BJP, other parties including the CPM could back it to defeat the BJP.
Ruling out the UPA-style alliance, which he said would not succeed, Karat hailed the political experiment of 1993 as a lesson that “the most effective electoral tactics to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha election will be to ensure pooling of anti-BJP votes state-wise”. While it was an SP-BSP alliance that defeated the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the election held after the dismissal of the BJP government consequent to demolition of Babri Masjid, in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh the pooling of votes against the BJP helped the Congress, the editorial pointed out.
Karat said his party would opt for a coalition of all non-BJP parties in the states to defeat the BJP: “If the major non-BJP parties unite, then the smaller parties and forces can extend support to them.”
Karat wrote that the BJP could be defeated in Gorakhpur and Phulpur because the BSP could convince its voters that its supporters should vote for the SP. Pointing out that the SP and BSP came together and formed a government in 1993, the former CPM general secretary said the byelections provided “important lessons for the future in terms of election tactics to defeat the BJP”.
According to him, the second lesson was that the effective way to take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections is not by forging an all-India alliance or front of all opposition parties. “The Congress hopes to build an extended UPA-style alliance to counter the BJP. However, this will not succeed. The Congress has no credibility to lead such an alliance in terms of an alternative programme,” he said, adding that a number of regional parties like BJD in Odisha and TRS in Telangana would never be able to accept being a partner in alliance with the Congress. “The CPI-M has already declared it will not be part of a national alliance with the Congress,” the editorial said.
It went on to say that “any effort to build a non-BJP, non-Congress ‘federal front’ mooted by the Telangana chief minister K C Rao, is bound to fail”. Because, it said, regional parties like the DMK and RJD were with the Congress in their respective states, and there were contradictions among regional parties in terms of policies and interests.
Stressing the party’s proposed tactical line, to be adopted in the 22nd party congress in April, the editorial said it calls for intensifying the struggles against the Narendra Modi government’s pro-rich economic policies and building broad unity to fight the communal forces and authoritarian attacks. “An electoral alliance or understanding with the Congress which adopts and follows the same neo-liberal policies will not serve the purpose,” it said.
The Congress, in its 84th plenary session, has made a significant change in its economic and agricultural policies, which, political observers said, moved more towards the left of the centre.
The editorial concluded that electoral tactics can be worked out to help maximise the pooling of anti-BJP votes. “As the 1993 assembly election tactics in three states and the UP Lok Sabha by-elections show, this is the most practical way to isolate and defeat the BJP in each state and at the same time safeguard the interests of the Party and pave the way for the advance of the Left and democratic forces,” it said.