The party’s politburo and the central committee have rejected Yechury’s document that favoured a tactical understanding with the Congress.
Despite the massive defeat in the recent Tripura Assembly elections, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is holding its triennial 22nd congress in Hyderabad from 18 to 23 April, appears to be tilting towards its former general secretary Prakash Karat’s line of keeping distance from the Congress in the 2019 elections.
However, the party’s top leadership is working overtime to see that there was no voting on the draft political resolution proposed by Karat, who differed with current general secretary Sitaram Yechury. The latter favoured a tactical understanding with the Congress so as to defeat the BJP, according to sources in the party.
A via media formula of allowing the local state units to take appropriate decisions in electoral tie ups with the Congress is being worked by these veterans who don’t want to see the division of votes in the congress that is attended by 850 delegates. These senior comrades from Kerala, Bengal and Andhra are of the view that the party cannot afford to expose its fissures at this juncture.
The two alternative drafts on the political situation in the country which are in circulation since December 2017 had led to differences between Yechury and Karat. Interestingly, the politburo with 16 members and the central committee with 91 regular members, five special invitees and five permanent invitees have rejected Yechury’s document and adopted Karat’s draft in the last three months.
This is for the first time since 1975 that the draft political resolution proposed by the general secretary has been turned down by the politburo and the central committee. The politburo and the central committee’s stand against the Yechury line were taken before the Tripura elections.
Those supporting Yechury in the party are of the view that the congress might consider the factors which led to the Tripura results and support Yechury on the need for tactical adjustments with the Congress. According to a delegate who spoke to The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity, the CPM would have retained power in Tripura had it done a tie-up with the Congress.
A section of delegates from Bengal, Tripura and Telangana are lobbying for going along with Yechury and embracing the Congress wherever it helps the CPM. They say that the BJP was the biggest threat to the country and every effort should be made to prevent it from coming to power in next year’s general elections.
But in the 52-page long draft political resolution, Karat had argued that as the economic and social policies of both BJP and the Congress were the same, there cannot be any electoral adjustments with either.
Karat was instrumental in firming up this anti-Congress line by withdrawing CPM’s support to the Congress led UPA-1 government in 2008. Not surprisingly, a majority of CPM delegates from both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are with Karat as far as opposing the Congress is concerned. A couple of former MLAs who won with Congress support in the past in combined AP are batting for Yechury’s line.
Telangana’s state secretary and former MP Tammineni Veerabhadram is a strong supporter of the Karat line. He has built a Dalit-Bahujan-Left Front, comprising 28 smaller parties and community outfits in the last two years and even announced that the front would contest all 119 Assembly seats in Telangana in 2019. Andhra unit secretary and former MP P. Madhu too is a pro-Karat leader.
A large number of delegates from Bengal and Tripura are in touch with the delegates from other states and they want to force a voting on the political resolution. A majority of delegates from Kerala are strongly opposing any understanding with the Congress. There appears to be a situation when the congress might be compelled to go for voting.
Some delegates from outside these strongholds are for a compromise between the two groups and propose an amendment that the state units should be allowed to choose their electoral partners in tune with their local conditions. There shall be no open adjustments with the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, but there might be tacit understanding with the grand old party at the state level, as per their formula.
This might be acceptable to both the groups as Karat wants to maximise the vote share of CPM and Yechury wants to take the help of the Congress in checking the BJP. “Anyway, we are going it alone in Telangana and at the national level. Only in Andhra, where we are a smaller force, there might be some adjustments with others,” said a former MLA from Nalgonda district.