Though party managers ruled out any alliance with Congress in Kerala — CPM’s stated position at its party congress in April 2018 — state secretary and politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s statement suggested that CPM was ready, at least until the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, to sink its differences with Congress and “take all tactical steps to ensure that BJP is ousted”.
“We have decided to identify BJP and their allies as the main political threat. So, we will support the candidate with the highest possibility of defeating BJP. In constituencies where Congress is in a clearly position to defeat BJP, we will assist them too. Our aim is to fight and defeat BJP and its allies, without giving a call to support Congress,” said MA Baby, another prominent member of the politburo from Kerala, speaking to TOI.
Congress appeared to echo the sentiment, with Kerala PCC chief Mullapally Ramachandran going so far as to say on Sunday that the party could ally with CPM provided the latter gave up its violent politics.
Addressing a public meeting in Kerala, Ramachandran said CPM’s Kerala unit, unlike its counterparts in West Bengal and Tripura, was opposed to the idea of collaborating with Congress to defeat BJP and the Sangh Parivar at the national level. “If CPM is ready to shed its politics of violence and Stalinist thoughts, Congress is ready for an open discussion to form a secular democratic front to fight fascism,” he said.
The KPCC president also criticised CPM for not being sincere in its attempts to fight BJP’s policies. “The CPM sees Congress as the main opposition. They don’t see BJP as the main enemy. It’s not possible for CPM to create a Left alternative at the national level,” Ramachandran said. He also demanded that CPM’s Kerala leadership take corrective measures in its approach to resisting BJP.
Both statements come at a time when discussions on likely alliances are underway in CPM as well as Congress. While the issues of ‘tactical understanding’ was taken up at the two-day politburo meeting, it also figured at a meeting of PCC chiefs and legislative party leaders with Rahul Gandhi and other central Congress leaders on Saturday.
In West Bengal, this will mean Congress and Left parties will deliberate on the prospects of a tie-up, with the focus on “pooling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes”. While a section of Congress is keen on an alliance, CPM is expected to finalise its position at a meeting of the central committee early next month, by which time it hopes to ‘settle’ its internal equations with the Kerala wing.
On Saturday, addressing a press conference after the politburo meeting, CPM chief Sitaram Yechury said the party’s poll strategy will depend completely on local factors and necessities. “The party’s electoral tactics will be to ensure defeat of the BJP-led alliance, increase the strength of the CPM and the Left in Lok Sabha and ensure an alternative secular government is formed at the Centre,” he said