The Left has got a golden opportunity to regain their lost ground in India's politics, thanks to the anti-incumbency against Mamata Banerjee general and the ongoing fiasco in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and its impact on various quarters of the society.
The Bengal unit of the CPI(M) has spoken in favour of an alliance with the Congress in the state polls, which, however, the Kerala chapter is not ready to accept. The Politburo and Central Committee meetings so far haven't taken a decision in favour of the Bengal leaders as they continue to try convince their Kerala counterparts, who have a heavier presence in the Politburo, that the only way out for the Left in Bengal is to ally with the Congress.
Ideological compulsion against supporting Congress?
The Kerala chapter has cited the same, old ideological compulsion as the reason against allying with the Congress. It has said the class character of the Congress doesn't make it an ideal side to ally with. The southern leaders are clearly not in a mood to let ago the opportunity to return to power by defeating a tainted Congress-led government in Kerala and fear that an alliance in Bengal with the same party could ruin its prospects.
Whatever be the internal contradiction, the CPI(M) can only to hope to give the Trinamool Congress (TMC) a fight in Bengal by having an alliance with the Congress. The stand taken by the Kerala leaders of the party also doesn't fit any logic if we revisit history.
History shows otherwise
Even though the Left has traditionally fought against the Congress in Bengal (till the point when Mamata Banerjee left the Congress and took its place as the main anti-Left force in the state), there have been instances of its friendship with the latter at the Centre.
In 2004, Left supported Congress-led UPA from outside but they were fighting Congress at states
In 2004, when the Left recorded their most number of seats in the Lok Sabha, they decided to support the UPA I government from outside---mainly to keep the ‘communal' BJP at bay. There were no talks on the opposite models being pursued at the state and Centre. The Trinamool Congress (TMC), which had just one MP in that term in its supremo Mamata Banerjee, often used to mock the Congress-Left's pattern of functioning.
Just three years prior to that, the TMC and Congress had fought the Assembly polls in Bengal together against a powerful Left, only to lose decisively.
Left won Bengal & Kerala polls in 2006 yet remained with Congress at Centre
If the Left really had a problem with the Congress's 'class character', then why didn't it withdraw its support from UPA I in 2006, when they won in both Bengal and Kerala Assembly polls? They ultimately withdrew in 2008 on the question of a Indo-US nuclear deal and paved the way for a Congress-TMC alliance in UPA II.
CPI(M) backed UPA's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee in 2012; Cong-TMC alliance was still there
In 2012, too, the CPI(M) and Forward Bloc backed the Congress's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the election to the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the CPI and RSP abstained), despite the fact that the Congress-TMC alliance was still in force then. They even expelled a leader for criticising the support to the UPA. Why then didn't they back a separate candidate like they had done in 2002 by supporting Laxmi Sahgal?
The Left is known to miss buses in Indian politics at crucial times. Now also, when it should have approved a tie-up with the Congress in Bengal at once to at least rattle the TMC camp if not defeat it in the actual elections, its internal fault lines are becoming more prominent.
The BJP and the right-wing elements have given it a full toss but the Left is wondering where to hit it. May be a long phase of depression has pushed them into a state of confusion.