Yes, no, yes, no: CPI(M)'s Congress dilemma for Kerala and West Bengal polls

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The Communist Party of India (Marxist) lacks a consensus over entering into an alliance with the Congress ahead of the Assembly election in West Bengal.

Going by the reports, the camp in the CPI(M) led by its former general-secretary Prakash Karat is keen to derail the plan to have an alliance with the Congress in Bengal. The party has been dilly-dallying on the matter for some time and will take it up again in the Politburo and Central Committee meetings next week. The Bengal leadership of the CPI(M) is likely to strongly back the idea of forming an alliance with the Congress on that occasion but the Kerala lobby under the leadership of Karat is desperate to oppose it.



The Kerala unit has reiterated the party's traditional stand of not entertaining any alliance with the Congress and feels the current general-secretary, Sitaram Yechury, has no business in violating that stand by making an alliance with the Congress in Bengal. One section has said the 'reformist' Yechury should give up his post.

The Kerala lobby is not ready to buy the Yechury camp's justification that it has only thought of a strategic understanding with the Congress in Bengal to beat the Trinamool Congress, its arch-rival. According to the southern lobby, even the slightest compromise with the Congress is a strict 'no-no'.

According to many party insiders, more than Bengal versus Kerala or politics versus ideology, it is a clash of personalities and their loyalists of Karat and Yechury which is the actual problem. It seems the party is yet to cope with the change in the leadership that occurred at the Vishakhapatnam congress last year.

Why Kerala lobby is against the idea of alliance with Congress in Bengal

Yechury will gain if the move increases the CPI(M)'s vote-share

The Kerala lobby feels if the CPI(M) succeeds in increasing its vote-share in Bengal by entering into an allience with the Congress, then Yechury will be a gainer. Loyalists of leaders like S R Pillai don't want it.

It will further downgrade Karat's credibility as a party visionary; his opponents will not like it

It will also be a sharp departure from the self-defeating step that the CPI(M) had taken under the leadership of Karat in 2008 by withdrawing support from the then UPA government on a nuclear deal with the US. It has been a downhill journey for the CPI(M) since then in both national and Bengal politics.

Kerala Left has a good opportunity to retuen to power this time

Thanks to the anti-incumbency against and other controversies centred around the Oommen Chandy government in Kerala and the growing polarisation between the left and the right, the CPI(M) feels it has a good opportunity to come to power in Kerala this time. The Left's good show in the recent panchayat polls in the state has also boosted the party's psyche. Understandably, the Kerala lobby is against letting that advantage go by forming an alliance with the Congress in Bengal.

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