CPI(M) under pressure from Left to steer clear of poll ties with Congress

Many constituents of Bengal's Left Front are questioning the rationale behind tagging the Congress along when it’s not yielding any electoral dividend

The Bengal unit of the CPI (M) is at odds with its Kerala counterpart on partnering with the Congres for elections. (Representational image)

The CPI(M) is under pressure from its Left partners as well as a section within it to steer clear of any electoral understandings with the Congress, which is increasingly becoming “inefficacious” for its allies.

Many smaller constituents of the Left Front (LF) in West Bengal are putting pressure on the CPI (M), the dominant force in the nine-party conglomerate, to rethink its stand vis-à-vis the Congress. The nudge comes close on the heels of the Marxist party’s politburo last week deciding to adopt State-specific policies on its ties with the Grand Old Party.

“The All-India Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and some other members of the LF have conveyed their reservations about the fruitfulness of any alliance with the Congress, particularly in Bengal,” sources in the Front said.

A section of the CPI (M) leaders, particularly from Kerala, are also said to have questioned at the politburo meeting in New Delhi on Sunday (November14), the party’s decision to forge an alliance with the Congress to take on the BJP.  “In the meeting, the Kerala lobby even questioned the Congress’s sincerity in taking on the BJP’s alleged communal agenda, accusing it of indulging in soft-Hindutva in many States,” said a senior CPI (M) leader.

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The Bengal unit of the CPI(M), however, differed from its Kerala counterpart, forcing the party to keep a final decision on the matter in abeyance until the next Party Congress, to be held in Kannur, Kerala, next April.

“In the absence of a consensus on the matter, the politburo has left it to the State units to take a call locally on an alliance with the Congress,” the CPI(M) leader added.

Bengal municipality polls

The pro-Congress line of the Bengal unit now faces resistance from some of its local allies, which have decided to strongly oppose any move by the CPI(M) to enter into an alliance with the Congress for the municipality elections in the State.

The Front was set to go into a huddle on Wednesday (November 17), to decide on whether or not to have any truck with the Congress for the civic body polls in Kolkata and Howrah, likely to be held on December 19.

Political observers said the meeting would be crucial as the Forward Bloc has given an ultimatum against any tie-up with the Congress, saying it would not be part of any such understanding even if the CPI (M) and other LF stakeholders go for it.

“The Left Front is not going to gain anything by allying with the Congress as neither the people nor the Left supporters favoured such political understanding,” Forward Bloc leader Naren Chatterjee said, insisting that his party would not be part of any alliance with the Congress.

The RSP is also reportedly against the tie-up and has conveyed its position in this regard to LF chairperson Biman Bose. The party leaders are, however, tight-lipped in public on the issue.

Little to gain

The Congress and the Left parties drew a blank in the March-April Assembly elections they contested jointly. Since then many within the LF have been questioning the rationale behind tagging the Congress along when it’s not yielding any electoral dividend.

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The clamour to go without the Congress got further momentum after the LF increased its vote share in the four recently concluded Assembly by-polls, in which it did not have any alliance with the Congress. The Left Front got 8.5% votes, up from the 4.7% it received during the Assembly elections.

The Congress, contesting only one seat out of the four, drew just 1.41% votes. In the Assembly elections earlier this year, the party managed to secure 3.03% votes by contesting 92 seats.

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