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CPM changes poll tactics to avoid a split

Uday Basu | Kolkata |

The CPI-M party congress in Hyderabad on Friday made a tectonic shift in its tactical line formally opening its doors for “understanding” with the Congress to save the party from a vertical split and adopt a pragmatic approach so as to remain relevant in national politics.

Ironically, as the CPI-M shed its doctrinaire approach to politics, it was left to Prakash Karat, former party general secretary and a staunch opponent to “understanding” with the Congress, to explain to the delegates the rationale of the new tactic.

While summing up the discussions on the political resolution Mr Karat was at pains to admit : “It is unprecedented that two views have been put before the congress. The central committee decided since this is a political issue it should be decided in the highest body, the party congress.

That is why the party general secretary Sitaram Yechury placed the CC minority point of view. 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.”

The issue became of such paramount importance that Mr Karat was forced to say “a large number of the delegates asked the leadership to resolve the issue so as to go back from this congress with the message of unity.”

According to sources, Mr Yechury explained at the party congress there was a difference between political strategy and electoral strategy.

Electorally, he said, there was no question of having any alliance with the Congress. At the same time, working with the Congress was essential to defeat the BJP-RSS combine.

The consensus to have understanding with the Congress was reached to avoid the embarrassment of thrashing out the issue through secret ballot as demanded by 17 of the 47 speakers earlier.

It was expected that a section of the Kerala unit would have voted in favour of the Yechury line, had there been a secret ballot. That would have been a big blow to Mr Karat and his camp followers.

It was Mr Karat and his Kerala lobby that was responsible for what former party stalwart Jyoti Basu had called “historical blunder” when the CPI-M’s national leadership stymied the move by the Congress and other “Left, secular, democratic” parties to make Basu the Prime Minister.

It was again Mr Karat and his coterie that was instrumental in withdrawing Left support from the UPA-government when the Left had the highest number of MPs ever ~ 60.

That was the beginning of the end of the CPI-M in Bengal as Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee exploited the situation to the hilt, forged ties with the Congress severing its links with the BJP and subsequently overthrew the 34 years-long Marxist regime in Bengal.

The CPI-M steadily lost its relevance in the country’s politics since then and a few months back it lost power in its second citadel ~ Tripura.

Mr Karat’s Marxist text book-bound approach to politics divorced from ground reality has been mainly responsible for the party’s decline and existential crisis in Bengal. That is why the party’s Bengal unit rallied behind Mr Yechury who advocated tactical “understanding” with the Congress as the only way to attempt survival.