Cong-CPM tango in WB out in open

KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 1

The decision of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to have an electoral understanding with the Indian National Congress for the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections brings out in the open the not-so-secret understanding that existed in the state four years ago.

Yet, that understanding pursued by the Bengal unit of the party with a tacit approval of party general secretary Sitaram Yechury was frowned upon by the collective CPM leadership on an understanding with the Indian National Congress and splitting the party down the middle with predominant Kerala comrades vociferously opposing any such plan.

Now with the polls less than a year away, the CPM central committee on Saturday endorsed the understanding, reconciled as it is the face of double-headed challenge in the form of ruling Trinamool Congress and growing political spread of the BJP.

Kerala, which will elect a new assembly around the same time, will be an exception, with the CPM-led Left Democratic Front currently in the government gearing up take on the Congress-led United Democratic Front.

Three years ago, CPM comrades from Kerala vetoed any understanding with the Congress, but altering political landscape both in the state and West Bengal dictated a change of strategy. The assessment in West Bengal unit is that in order to check the sharp rise of the BJP, parties opposed to the BJP and Trinamool should join hands. The 2016 Assembly experiment of tacit understanding between the CPM and the Congress did not throw up results on anticipated lines. The combined vote share of the Left parties was around 26 per cent, winning 32 seats, much less than 44 seats the Congress bagged with a vote share of 40 per cent.

In fact, ahead of the 2019 general elections, the CPM general secretary came under attack, with comrades from Kerala voting against an alternate draft resolution articulating Yechury’s interpretation that as a classical Marxist, the party will have to arrive at “concrete analysis based on concrete conditions”. As for Kerala, he maintained that voters in the state were discerning to decipher the political compulsions in taking on the Congress in the southern state and adopting a friendly posture in West Bengal.

The ongoing Bihar Assembly elections are in a manner a testbed for a broader alliance of parties opposed to the BJP and its allies. Besides West Bengal, a similar exercise will come into play in the Assembly elections in Assam and Tamil Nadu, where the CPM will join parties opposed to the BJP.

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