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In Compromise, CPM Leaves Option Open For Understanding With Congress


In Compromise, CPM Leaves Option Open For Understanding With Congress

Both Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury made matter-of-fact statements that could have ended in acrimony.

Kolkata:  The CPM has hammered out a compromise over its relationship with the Indian National Congress. It still won’t have a political alliance with the Congress but a crucial meeting on Friday decided to delete the provision in the draft political resolution that barred the party from an electoral “understanding” as well.

At its once-in-three-years meet, this time in Hyderabad, the CPM’s document setting out the roadmap, called the draft political resolution, has been tweaked till the final version was acceptable to both sides – one that wanted no truck whatsoever with the Congress, the other that wanted to keep the door ajar to achieve one objective: the ouster of the BJP.

The means of achieving that objective has been rewritten somewhat.

The line, that there should be “no understanding or adjustment with the Congress” has been deleted in the final political resolution. Instead, it now only restricts the party from having a “political alliance with the Congress”.

It is an important shift, credited to party general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Over the last few years, the debate over its relations with the Congress had grown, and turned bitter. Split almost down the middle, delegates at the party congress demanded that if the draft resolution had to be voted upon, it should be by secret ballot and not the usual show of hands – so that delegates could vote without worrying about any consequences and reprisals from within the party itself, such was the acrimony.

With Tripura lost, BJP aggressive in Kerala and, in Bengal, having to start almost from scratch, for the CPM, the party meet in Hyderabad was crucial.

In January, CPM chief Sitaram Yechury had offered to resign when his party rejected his position that CPM should keep doors open for some truck with Congress to defeat the BJP.

Among those who persuaded him not to was former party chief Prakash Karat whose stand against an alliance with the Congress was the one that got the party stamp of approval.

With Tripura lost, BJP aggressive in Kerala and, in Bengal, having to start almost from scratch, for the CPM, the party meet in Hyderabad is crucial for the party.

Both Mr Prakash Karat and Mr Yechury made matter-of-fact statements at the end of a day that could have ended in acrimony.

“We are proud of the CPM,” Sitaram Yechury said.

“It is the only party in India today which can undertake such a democratic exercise to decide its future direction. We are all agreed that our main fight is against the BJP/RSS and to defeat this Government. After this Congress, we go back in a unified manner take this fight throughout the country…”

Mr Prakash Karat said it was unprecedented that two views have been put before the party congress.

“It is not a question of some words ‘understanding and alliance’ as some delegates have stated. It is the approach of how best to fight the BJP RSS and ensure their defeat. A large number of comrades asked the leadership to resolve the issue so as to go back from this congress with the message of unity….We have tried to keep this spirit of the comrades in mind.”

There are those, including in the Trinamool and the BJP, who don’t think it is worth their while talking about the internal turns and twists of the CPM which, they say, cannot have any political significance in the foreseeable future.

But in Delhi, CPM’s new and formal position on Congress could cause some political ripples.

While Mamata Banerjee is trying to unite opposition parties against BJP, she did meet the Telangana chief minister KC Rao recently. He had called for a “non-Congress, non-BJP front.”

Recently, she ticked off Congress which was attacking Trinamool over rural poll related violence in the same language as BJP. “You can’t be friends with BJP in Bengal and oppose BJP in Delhi, Congress must clarify its position,” she had said.

Today, Trinamool did not back the Congress-initiated impeachment motion against the chief justice of India. Yesterday, it was silent on the Supreme Court verdict on the Justice Loya case.

But CPM has backed the impeachment move today and yesterday was critical of the SC verdict.

How these equations play out in the run up to 2019 will be closely watched in the coming days.

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