West Bengal unit closer to Congress pact, Kerala CPM softens stance

NEW DELHI/KOCHI: Even as CPM and Congress edged closer to a ‘tactical alliance’ in West Bengal, the Left party’s Kerala unit sprung a bigger surprise, toning down, with an eye on the 2019 polls, its criticism of the grand old party at its politburo meeting that concluded last week.

Though party managers ruled out any alliance with Congress – CPM’s stated position at its Party Congress in April 2018 – Kerala state secretary and politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s nuanced statement suggested that CPM is ready, at least until 2019 Lok Sabha polls, to sink its differences with Congress and to “take all tactical steps to ensure that BJP is ousted”.

Congress appeared to echo the sentiment, with Kerala PCC chief Mullapally Ramachandran going so far as to say on Sunday that the party would ally with CPM provided it gave up its violent politics.

Addressing a public meeting in Kerala, Ramachandran said that CPM’s Kerala unitwas opposed to the idea of collaborating with Congress to fight and defeat BJP and Sangh Parivar at the national level. “If CPM is ready to shed its politics of violence and Stalinist thoughts, Congress is ready for an open discussion to form a secular democratic front to fight fascism,” he said. “CPM sees Congress as the main opposition. They don’t see BJP as the main enemy. It’s not possible for CPM to create a Left alternative at the national level,” Ramachandran said.

Both statements come at a time when discussion on likely alliances are underway in CPM and Congress. On the one hand, while the issues of ‘tactical understanding’ was taken up during the two-day politburo meeting, it also figured at a meeting of PCC chiefs and legislative party leaders with Rahul Gandhi and other central party leaders on Saturday.

In West Bengal, while this will mean that Congress and Left parties will deliberate on the prospects of a tie-up, with focus on “maximising the pooling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes”. While a section of Congress is keen on an alliance, CPM is expected to finalise its position at a meeting of party’s Central Committee next month.

CPM chief Sitaram Yechury has maintained that the party will decide on it’s poll partners based on state-level equations. On Saturday, Yechury said CPM’s poll strategy will depend completely on local factors and necessities.

Source: Times of India

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