A recent draft political resolution by CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, giving a “go ahead” to holding joint mass agitations with the Congress to corner the BJP in the state has been greeted with a mixed response in West Bengal — where CPM and Congress have been arch rivals for over three decades.
While Karat has ruled out any electoral understanding with the Congress, a CPM-Congress electoral alliance is very much part of the discourse in Bengal’s political circles these days.
Within the CPM, the announcement is being seen as a victory for the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-Sitaram Yechury camp which is in favour of broader Opposition unity than only fighting BJP.
Bhattacharjee had always maintained that Congress is “not untouchable” when the question of fighting against right wing parties like BJP arises. He had always advocated the cause of forming a democratic front with all secular forces.
Electoral arithmetic in Bengal, however, strongly favour a CPM-Congress alliance that can pose a real threat to many other outfits.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, while Trinamool Congress got 39 per cent votes, CPM bagged 30 per cent and the Congress 9.5 per cent. If one goes by this, the joint electoral fortune of CPM and Congress is around 39.5 per cent — higher than what Trinamool got.
A section of the state Congress, however, does not mind a “post electoral” coalition with CPM in the 2016 Assembly elections. Followed by Karat’s announcement, C P Joshi — senior Congress leader also in charge of Bengal — refused to comment on the issue.
State Congress chief president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said: “This is well known that CPM has always remained a secular force. In Bengal, there is no scope of seat sharing, but post electoral coalition might happen to defeat Hindutva forces like BJP and RSS. But everything depends on how the situation emerges.”
But many Left Front constituents are not convinced. Manju Kumar Majumdar, state secretary of CPI, said: “We are for Left unity. We do not think that Left parties will need Congress support for spearheading a movement.”
Veteran RSP leader Kshiti Goswami, however, said this is a “debatable” issue. “We do not know why this policy was floated. Is this a solid policy? We need a solid policy to fight the overwhelming majority of BJP. We cannot have a temporary policy from which we have to backtrack later,” he added.
“Be it a question of moral and electoral coalition, but how will it happen in Kerala where Congress and CPM are direct opponents? This is an ambiguous policy. We are quite confused about it,” said Goswami.